Mark Harlen, NSRI Shelly Beach station commander, said: “Jean-Pierre Els, 30, from Uvongo, Shelly Beach, the dive master of African Dive Adventures, who went missing this morning (Tuesday, 26th February), 5 nautical miles off Shelly Beach, on the Kwa-Zulu Natal South Coast, at Protea Banks, while conducting a group charter dive, was located by the Transnet National Ports Authority rescue helicopter at 15h20 off-shore of Port Edward, approximately 45 kilometers (24 nautical miles) from where he originally went missing.
“An NSRI rescue swimmer was deployed into the water from the rescue helicopter to secure the casualty who was then winch hoisted into the rescue helicopter and airlifted to shore to our NSRI Shelly Beach rescue base.
“Despite exhaustion, dehydration and some sunburn he is not injured and he will not need to be hospitalized.
“It appears that he was separated from the dive charter group, at around 08h00, while diving and when he surfaced from the dive he had no sight of the dive charter boat. He drifted for over 7 hours in the 2 to 3 meter rough sea swell and a 30 knot wind until he was found.
“In total we deployed the Transnet National Ports Authority rescue helicopter, 2 NSRI Shelly Beach sea rescue craft, 1 NSRI Port Edward sea rescue craft and there were 5 private boats assisting in the search. (Two of the private boats assisting in the operation are also from African Dive Adventures).
“NSRI commend all involved in this sea rescue operation for their cooperation and assistance.”
On Tuesday 26th February at 08h30 NSRI Shelly Beach volunteers were activated following reports of a scuba diver missing while diving at Protea Banks, approximately 5 nautical miles off Shelly Beach, from a Dive Charter Boat.
NSRI Shelly Beach volunteer sea rescue duty crew launched two sea rescue craft and a sea rescue craft from NSRI Port Edward has joined in the search.
The Dive Charter Boat, from which the scuba diver has gone missing, initiated a search while raising the alarm.
It appears that the scuba diver missing is the Dive Master. According to reports when the divers emerged from diving the Dive Master was reported missing but the sequence of events are not as yet clear and are subject to an investigation.
Police Search and Rescue are on high alert and the Transnet National Ports Authority rescue helicopter has joined in the search. A further 4 private boats, some of them are also charter boats, have joined in the search.
The divers, on the dive charter boat, are due to be ferried to shore while the search continues.
The missing scuba diver is in his late 20’s.
Further updates to follow.