Cyclone Gabrielle: Body found in search for firefighter missing in Muriwai

  • 15/02/2023

A body has been found in a house in Muriwai where a volunteer firefighter went missing after it was hit by a slip.

Fire and Emergency said in a statement two volunteer firefighters were trapped in the collapsed house at Muriwai Beach on Monday night.

One firefighter, Craig Stevens, was rescued while the search continued for the second one Dave van Zwanenberg.

FENZ said the search and rescue mission to find him resumed on Wednesday after it was halted because of safety concerns.

FENZ chief executive Kerry Gregory said shortly after it resumed they located a body.

"This morning, our team, working alongside police, has located a body in the area where they were searching.

"We have not yet identified who this is and will be working with police to retrieve and identify the body," Gregory said.

"We will provide more information later today. I acknowledge the difficult time this is for all of us, particularly for family, the Muriwai Volunteer Fire Brigade and all at Fire and Emergency New Zealand."

As well as being a volunteer firefighter, Van Zwanenberg is a vet, pilot and father of two young children.

Gregory asked media to respect the family's wishes for privacy.

Muriwai was hit hard by Cyclone Gabrielle on Monday night with more than 200 people being evacuated from the west coast beach.

The ferocity of the cyclone caused a huge slip and blocked roads.

One resident told Newshub the entire community is thinking of the firefighters and their families.

"Yea it's horrendous and we've got some friends who are not doing well at all. It's heavy," evacuee Brendan Christensen said.

"It's the volunteer firefighters I’m thinking of… Pulling people out of a house and they get caught out," Ross Grant lives on Motutara Road and said the cyclone hit so hard it was cracking trees.