Police are appealing for owners of 4WD vehicles and who are able to safely negotiate flooding on the Kapiti Coast to help them search the Waikanae -- Peka Peka shoreline for debris from a missing plane.
The Convair plane believed to be carrying freight was on a flight from Christchurch to Palmerston North last night. Ohakea air control reported it went off the radar screen at 9.30pm. At least two people were on board the flight but so far a water and ground search has found no sign of survivors.
Police, Coastguard, emergency service and the Westpac Helicopter staff are being joined in the search by two Air Force Iroquois helicopters. Foot and 4WD searches of the coastline are continuing during the night.
So far debris has been found off the Kapiti Coast and on the beaches.
Volunteers with 4WD vehicles who are able to assist the search are being asked to report to the search headquarters at the Kapiti Boating Club in Paraparaumu.
People who find debris are also asked to contact police and advise them of the details.
The search is being compounded by flooding caused through the torrential rain which has buffeted the Wellington region in the last 24 hours. All State Highway 1 road links north of Pukerua Bay are cut as is the main rail line due to flooding and slips in the Paekakariki area.
Parts of the state highway running past Paekakariki are two metres underwater. About sixty people are being cared for at the St Peterâ€™s Hall in the township.
Several hundred other motorists are stuck on the highway north of Paekakariki. Police are appealing to them to stay calm. Graders and road crews are working furiously to clear swollen culverts and itâ€™s expected that traffic should begin moving again by 2am.