All 8 paddlers (not 9 paddlers as was originally believed) were found safe together on the Fish River after being reported overdue. (2 men reported missing from the main group were found at the main group).
There was no cell phone signal where they were located.
According to friends and family, they had been dropped off up river on Friday afternoon to paddle down river but failed to arrive as expected on Saturday.
On Sunday afternoon at 16h00 the alarm was raised and NSRI Port Alfred and emergency services were alerted.NSRI Port Alfred, an SA Police Services K-9 Search and Rescue officer, Nature Conservation rangers and Traffic Services officers launched a search for two of the party who had been reported to be missing from the main group.
Fire and Rescue Services, the SA Air Force 15 Squadron (Charlie Flight), EMS and the Mountain Club of South Africa remained on alert.
A farmer had gone to the original location where they had been spotted after a volunteered private fixed wing aircraft had spotted the group during a search earlier. on Sunday late afternoon.
The farmer found all 8 persons at that location but unable to communicate with the search party due to no cellphone signal.
According to the group the 2 missing men had gone to where they could find a cellphone signal, at 17h00 they had made a call to a friend when cellphone signal was again lost so they retreated back to the main group.
The search party who were searching for these 2 missing men backtracked to that original location of the main group where it was then confirmed that all 8 persons in the party were safe.
Hippos that had apparently earlier blocked their progress were in the vicinity but not posing any danger.
A sea rescue craft that was being launched to head up river was informed to stand down.
All 8 persons have chosen to remain on the river and not be escorted out by the rescue party.
They are all adults reportedly from East London.
No further assistance was required.
See original media statement below.
FISH RIVER:NSRI Port Alfred are investigating reports of 9 persons on Kayaks, on the Fish River, who were apparently due to arrive at their destination yesterday after being dropped off higher up river on Friday to paddle down river but failed to arrive yesterday (Saturday) as expected.
At 16h00, Sunday, 11th March, NSRI port Alfred were alerted by friends and family of the 9 paddlers, males and females, overdue.
A private aircraft volunteered to assist NSRI in an initial search and the paddlers location has been found about 10km upstream.
Communications have been established with the paddlers and we believe that they are cut off from continuing downstream by a herd of Hippos and 2 of the paddlers who ventured off to seek help during the night have not returned and have not arrived at their destination and they are missing.
The 7 remaining paddlers are reportedly safe and in no imminent danger but cut off from continuing by the herd of Hippos..
The SA Police Services are alerted and the SA Air Force have been placed on alert while NSRI and emergency services investigate to determine the best way to extract the paddlers and to launch a search for the 2 missing men.
A local farmer is also assisting in an effort to establish routes to reach the 7 paddlers and the Mountain Club of South Africa have been placed on alert.
NSRI are investigating all options to launch a search for the 2 missing men and to extricate the 7 remaining paddlers.
This is a developing situation and we will update with information as the situation progresses.
SEA RESCUE COMMUNICATIONS