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Canadian couple missing in New Zealand accident

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September 19, 2013 02:36 AM EST | AP

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand authorities on Thursday were searching for a Canadian couple who were believed to have died when their rental van went over a cliff on a rugged road.

Police said they were trying to recover the bodies of 25-year-old Connor Hayes and 24-year-old Joanna Lam off the Haast Pass road, which connects the west coast of the South Island to the rugged interior.

The couple were last seen Sept. 10 in stormy conditions. Parts of their wrecked rental van were found this week in the Haast River, about 80 meters (260 feet) below the road. Police believe they either drove over a cliff inadvertently or were swept off by a landslide.

Inspector John Canning said the chances they survived are "extremely remote."

The pair had been touring the country and Lam was due to start work Monday as an imaging specialist at Nelson Hospital.