The NSRI are currently assisting in the Port Elizabeth to East London surf-ski challenge that started in Port Elizabeth on the morning of Thursday, 4 December and the end of day 1, leg 1 ended at Woody Cape, between Port Elizabeth and Port Alfred.
At the end of day one at Woody Cape, 75 km East of Port Elizabeth, on the coastline between Port Elizabeth and Port Alfred, all surf-skiers were accounted for and settling down for the evening before the start of day two – Friday 5 December when, at 20h00, at the Woody Cape Resort and Backpackers Lodge, NSRI volunteers were having dinner when they heard cries for help coming from the beach.
NSRI volunteers immediately proceeded to investigate the cries for help and found 5 British Nationals, all part of a volunteer group who are in the area at the time conducting health volunteering, and who had gone for a swim and were caught in rip-currents and were being swept out to sea by rip currents. (They are not taking part in the surf-ski challenge).
NSRI rescue swimmers went into the surf to go to the aid of the 5 people, reaching them 100 meters out to sea and managing to rescue 3 safely and recovering the body of one and the 5th person remains missing in the surf line.
The 3 survivors, two males and a female, showed signs of near drowning symptoms and were treated by NSRI medics before being transported to hospital for observation for Secondary Drowning.
SA National Parks Rangers also responded to assist.
The body of the deceased, a female, has been handed into the care of the Police and the Forensic Pathology Services.
Despite an extensive search no sign of the missing person, a female, has been found and a search resumed at first light today.
Juan Pretorius, NSRI Port Alfred station commander, said that the NSRI volunteers just happened to be there at the time because of the stand-by that the NSRI are doing for the surf-ski challenge, and while braaing dinner at the end of day one of the surf-ski challenge, on hearing cries for help coming from the beach front, NSRI rescuers raced to the beach and found multiple people being swept out to sea in rip currents.
Juan said that the NSRI rescue swimmers launched into the surf and managed to pull three survivors, two males and a female, safely to a sand bank.
Later a body of a female was found washed up on the beach and it was confirmed, from the three survivors, that five of them had gone for a swim when they were caught in rip-currents, leaving one person, a female unaccounted for.
A search, conducted by the NSRI rescue swimmers in strong rip currents, revealed no sign of the missing female before conditions became too dangerous for the NSRI rescue swimmers to continue searching in the surf-line and the decision was made to suspend the search until first light.
Police will open an inquest docket for the deceased female and a missing persons report will be opened for investigation related to the missing female.
Update – see: Body of Missing Woman found
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