New Zealand helicopter hunt launched for missing brewery chief

A team of 20 helicopters scoured rugged terrain near New Zealand’s west coast today for a missing helicopter piloted by a millionaire and carrying a Dutch beer company executive.

A team of 20 helicopters scoured rugged terrain near New Zealand’s west coast today for a missing helicopter piloted by a millionaire and carrying a Dutch beer company executive.

Businessman Michael Erceg and Dutch brewer Grolsch International’s export director, Guus Klatte, disappeared on Friday while flying from Auckland to the alpine resort of Queenstown on South Island.

They were on the first leg of their journey when they disappeared from radar screens.

No emergency beacon, normally triggered in a crash, had been picked up.

Rescue Co-ordination Centre spokesman Steve Corbett said the search area was mostly covered by thick bush and it would be extremely difficult to find a downed helicopter.

However, he said searchers still held out hope the pair were alive.

“We have got to presume that. That is the only way you can do it,” he said.

Netherlands Embassy Counsellor Leo Bouter said they were keeping “in regular contact with the rescue centre” for updates on the search.

He said Klatte, 38, was from Amsterdam.

Erceg is one of New Zealand’s richest businessmen, with wealth from liquor interests of more than €333m.

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