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Search on hold for missing pair

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 9/06/2016 By Cleo Fraser

There are grave fears for a toddler and man missing after a 4WD became submerged in a swollen West Coast river.

The vehicle became stranded in the Poerua River near Harihari just after midday on Thursday.

An air and water search for a two-year-old girl and 66-year-old man, the only occupants in the vehicle, was called off at dusk due to safety concerns.

"We have grave fears for the safety of the missing man and the child however we remain committed to finding and rescuing both people," Inspector Melanie Aitken said.

The search will resume once sufficient light and weather conditions permit.

No details have been released about the missing pair and police haven't said how the vehicle came to be in the river.

MetService meteorologist Ciaran Doolin told NZ Newswire the area has received some heavy rain since Thursday morning.

Up to 250mm is expected over some parts of the West Coast on Thursday and Friday.

A severe weather warning is in place with authorities warning rivers and streams could rise rapidly.

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