DURBAN – Tuesday, 31st July, 2012.
At 10h20 on the morning of Tuesday, 31st July, our NSRI Durban volunteer sea rescue duty crew were activated following reports of a 7 meter rigid inflatable charter boat capsized off Oasis Beach opposite the Sun Coast Casino.
Our NSRI duty crew responded and eThekwini Municipal lifeguards, ambulances and paramedic response vehicles from Netcare 911 ambulance services and a Medix private ambulance responded.
On NSRI’s arrival on-scene it was confirmed that all 12 people, (11 passengers and 1 skipper), of the capsized boat were accounted for and safe on the beach. The 11 passengers were being treated by paramedics, some for various injuries ranging from bumps and bruises and shock, and some for suspected near drowning symptoms.
It has been confirmed by the eThekwini Municipal lifeguards that when they arrived on-scene they were faced with one person already on the beach and a boat capsized in the surf, about 50 meters off-shore, with a mass of people (casualties) in lifejackets bobbing in the surf around the boat and some of these people (casualties) attempting to swim towards shore through the surf. At that stage it was unknown how many people had been on the boat when it capsized.
The three eThekwini Municipal lifeguards, Manager Jayce Govender and lifeguards Manzi Siphiwe and Kuben Patter, launched into the surf using Malibu rescue boards and on their arrival at the boat, about between 30 meters and 50 meters off-shore in the surf-line, they began the task of rescuing the casualties and in some cases dragging the casualties by their life-jackets through the surf to bring them to the beach.
“The skipper of the capsized boat, Ben van Rensburg, was also helping to drag casualties and the boat towards shore.
The skipper confirmed to lifeguards that he could not be certain if all of the passengers were accounted for and the alarm level was raised when one of the casualties, who had by now been brought onto the beach, could not find his girlfriend amongst the rescued passengers.
The lifeguards, fearing that there may still be people trapped under the boat, which was by now near to being beached, and knowing that if people were still trapped under the boat they could be injured if the boat beached, they dragged the boat into deeper water and then dived under the boat where they first found one casualty, bringing that casualty to the surface and then on further investigation they found a second casualty and also brought that casualty to the surface.
Jayce Govender, eTheweni Municipal Lifeguards manager said that both of these casualties, who were freed from under the boat, a man and woman, were brought to the safety of the beach by the lifeguards and it was then confirmed that all of the people that had been on the boat when it had capsized were accounted for and all safely ashore.
It is believed that an air pocket between the pontoons of the boat and the hull of the boat was used by the two trapped passengers to breath.
Once all casualty crew were ashore the lifeguards then began to medically triage the patients and shortly thereafter the first of the paramedics arrived on-scene to continue with medical treatment of the casualties.
Chris Botha, of Netcare 911 ambulance services, confirmed that while none of the casualties sustained serious injury some of the 11 passengers sustained bumps and bruises and some were treated as a precautionary measure for suspected near drowning symptoms and although most of the passengers were suffering from shock they were all in stable conditions and transported to hospital by the Netcare 911 ambulances and by the Medix ambulance for further evaluation and for observations and for treatment for shock.
The skipper of the casualty boat was not injured and was not transported to hospital.
Clifford Ireland, NSRI Durban station commander said that NSRI are praising the gallant efforts of the lifeguards in this rescue operation. NSRI Durban volunteers have assisted the skipper to recover the boat which is a charter boat belonging to Isle of Capri.
It is believed that the 11 passengers, 7 males and 4 females, from the capsized boat are German tourists (this has not as yet been able to be confirmed). The skipper is from Durban. All were wearing life-jackets. Sea conditions were calm.
SAMSA (The South African Maritime Safety Authority) has been informed and will begin an investigation into the accident.
While it is suspected that the boat was capsized by a wave the exact cause will be investigated by SAMSA.
These pictures are available on the Sea Rescue Flickr page for media download.