More than 200 whales stranded on a remote beach in New Zealand on Saturday have refloated themselves and returned to sea.
But conservation officials have warned that they could still turn back to the beach at Farewell Spit, South Island.
Earlier, volunteers managed to refloat some 100 of the more than 400 pilot whales which beached on Thursday.
However a human chain, with volunteers wading neck-deep into the water, failed to prevent a fresh pod making landfall.
“The 240-odd whales that had stranded between Puponga and Pakawau late on Saturday have mostly refloated themselves on last night’s high tide and are milling around in shallow water,” conservation spokesman Herb Christophers said.
Seventeen of the group which remained stranded were refloated by rescuers and volunteers who were working on the spit.
The environmental group Project Jonah, which is assisting with the rescue, has a plane flying over the bay to keep track of the whales’ movements.
The whale stranding is one of the worst ever in New Zealand. Dozens of volunteers have turned out to help since the incident was first reported on Thursday.
More than 300 of the 400 original arrivals died while medics and members of the public tried to keep survivors alive by cooling them with water.
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