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A search for a man swept out to sea at the Rakaia River mouth in Canterbury will continue at first light.
A 21 year old man was whitebaiting with two friends in rough conditions this evening when the male was swept in about 7.00 pm this evening (Sunday 7 October).
Conditions at the time were very rough with large waves breaking on the beach and washing over in the lagoon.
The Westpac Rescue Helicopter from Christchurch was tasked to search for the man and with the assistance of spotters on the shore, located him after he had been in the water for about 45 minutes.
However as the helicopter was attempting a rescue the male was hit by a large wave and sucked under the water.
Despite an extensive search he has not been located. Searchers have been stood down and an air and shore search will resume at first light, conditions permitting.
Conditions in the area are poor with strong North East winds and large waves making searching difficult and dangerous. The weather is not expected to improve in the immediate future.