Wildlife workers in New Zealand have shot dozens of whales that beached on the country's South Island. Officials say a rescue operation had become too dangerous.

Forty-nine pilot whales came ashore since Saturday in a remote region known as Farewell Spit. Eight of them died on the beaches. The remaining 41 whales were spread over a wide area, more than a kilometer from the shore.

A New Zealand conservation official said it was hopeless to try refloating the whales because of rough seas. He said wildlife officers shot the whales to prevent them from suffering a long and painful death.

It was the second major stranding of whales in the area in recent weeks. Volunteers managed to refloat more than 100 whales that beached in the earlier incident.

Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.