Mass non-fatal drowning incident in PE

Just after midday, Saturday, 03 March, NSRI Port Elizabeth duty crew and the NMB (Nelson Mandela Bay) Water Emergency Rescue Network were activated following reports of multiple persons in difficulty in the surf at Cape Recife, according too Ryan Meyer, NSRI Port Elizabeth’s duty controller.
Emergency Services on the scene at Cape Recife. Picture: By NSRI Port Elizabeth:

An NSRI rescue vehicle, NSRI rescue swimmers, Coastal Water Rescue Unit, EC Government Health EMS, the EMS Aeromed 3 helicopter, NMB Beach Office managers and lifeguards, NMB Fire and Rescue Services and the SA Police Services responded.

A group of at least 80 young adults, mostly from Nelson Mandela University (NMU) and others from surrounding areas, on what is believed to be a monthly hike from Humewood to Cape Recife, had gone into the water to cool off at a beach that is not patrolled by lifeguards.

“On our arrival on the scene it was found that at least five men remained in difficulty in the water.

It appears that three young men got into difficulty in the water about 300 meters out after they had waded over the reef to swim and were caught in rip currents.

Four young men, from the same group, had gone into the water to try to help.

One of the original three had reached safety and he had raised the alarm.

A young woman had also waded out to try to help.

NSRI rescue swimmers found some of those still in the water were holding onto rocks and were attempting to assist each other.

NSRI rescue swimmers Jean Roussouw and Steven van den Berg entered the water and were able to assist the casualties from the water.

NSRI medics initiated medical treatment and paramedics and rescue personnel took over with medical treatment for non-fatal drowning symptoms and scrapes and bruises.

One young man was airlifted to hospital by EMS Aeromed 3 helicopter and two men and a woman were transported to hospital by EMS ambulance. They are all in a stable condition and are expected to fully recover.

Additional persons that had been in the water were treated for scrapes and bruises and required no further assistance.

All casualties are accounted for. It has been reported that this is a regular monthly gathering and that most in the group have been to Cape Recife in the past and are familiar with the terrain.

They are all aged in their early 20’s. It is believed that all those who had been in difficulty in the surf are from NMU and locals from Port Elizabeth.

The quick response of the Water Emergency Network is commended.”

NSRI are urging caution around the coast with the full moon Spring Tide that will affect the coastline with stronger than normal rip currents into the first half of the new week.


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