Three people have died and two are in hospital after a catamaran overturned off the Newcastle coast, with the rescue operation hampered by rough conditions.
An emergency beacon was activated from the 11.7 metre boat about seven nautical miles off Stockton Beach about 10.10am on Thursday, July 11.
Three bodies were found in the water and have been retrieved by Marine Rescue, NSW Police said in a statement.
Two other people—believed to be a 16-year-old girl and a 40-year-old man—have been winched from the water and taken to John Hunter Hospital.
The man is in a stable condition.
“The two people that they retrieved from the water were actually clutching on to the overturned vessel,” an Ambulance NSW spokesman told reporters.
The rescue mission was complicated by high seas, strong winds and debris in the water, he said.
He said all five people were wearing life jackets.
A strong wind warning is in place along the NSW coast, from the Hunter down to Eden.
Roads and Maritime Services urged fishers and boaties to be extra cautious, with choppy conditions expected on exposed bays as well as dangerously rough conditions offshore.