Coast KZN

08 Jan 2018

Death during mass surf rescue

Dave Savides (Zululand Observer) Picture: Holiday crowds continued to fill Alkantstrand on Saturday. Tragically, a group of people got into trouble in the surf at Palm Beach (circled), where one victim lost his life during a mass rescue Photo: Dave Savides

2018 drownings mount in Richards Bay

ONE person drowned and another is reportedly fighting for his life after being resuscitated during a mass rescue at Palm Beach north of Alkantstrand on Saturday afternoon.

A dozen lifeguards dashed to help when the alarm was raised after a group of six bathers was swept some distance out to sea.

‘They were swimming quite far from the official bathing area and we were alerted at about 1.30pm by someone who ran up to the lifeguard station,’ said beach manager Cyril Mkhize.

‘Our rubber duck was launched and at least 12 of our lifesavers took to the water, using torpedo buoys and Malibu boards.

‘We succeeded in getting all except one of the group, which included children, back to shore.’

The body of a 39-year-old man, who reportedly had tried to rescue other strugglers, was later recovered.

EMRS and Netcare 911 medics performed CPR on three survivors, one of whom was a 60-year-old male who was reportedly in critical condition. All three were taken to hospital.

‘Fortunately we have a full complement of lifeguards on duty until 14 January, but bathers are persisting in swimming outside the prescribed times and places,’ said Mkhize.

‘In this instance, the incoming spring tide caused a big backwash and the victims were pulled into the sea on an outgoing wave.’

The death brought the number of drownings in Richards Bay to six in the first week of the new year, all at areas where swimming is prohibited:

• 1 January – two at Bay Hall area, one at Naval Island;

• 5 January – one at Bay Hall, one in Small Craft Harbour;

• 6 January – one at Palm Beach.