ST FRANCIS BAY – UPDATE:
Sunday, 16th July:
There remains no sign of 8 fishermen missing at Cape St Francis despite an extensive sea, air and shoreline search.
Police divers were able to breach the hull of the boat using cutting tools but no crew were found inside the hull.
Police and a Police Dive Unit will continue in an ongoing search and recovery operation.
NSRI St Francis Bay remain on alert to assist Police if requested.
All involved in the search and rescue operation today are commended for their efforts in extremely rough sea conditions.
See original media statement…
At 03h30, Sunday, 16th July, NSRI St Francis Bay duty crew were activated by MRCC (Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre) following reports of red distress flares reported by Chokka fishing vessels at sea off-shore of Thyspoint.
The Chokka fishing vessel Silver Eagle had witnessed the red distress flares at around 03h00 and raised the alarm calling Telkom Maritime Radio Services and MRCC.
An EPIRB (Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon had then also been intercepted by MRCC and additional flare sightings were reported.
2 Chokka fishing vessels, Silver Eagle and Megalodon, diverted to investigate and the Chokka fishing vessel Maredon was then confirmed to have capsized.
It appears that Silver Eagle came upon a life-raft and reported that the life-raft had drifted too close into towards the rocks and could not be reached.
Megalodon reported to have recovered one survivor from the water.
NSRI St Francis Bay launched the sea rescue craft Spirit of St Francis II into rough sea conditions with 6 meter swells and a gusting to 50 knots Westerly wind and rain and a search commenced for survivors of the Chokka fishing boat Maredon confirmed to have 16 crew onboard.
The SA Police Services, Private Care ambulance services, local security company members, NSRI Jeffreys Bay and NSRI Oyster Bay, EC Government Health EMS, a Police Dive Unit and an NSRI Port Elizabeth NSRI ASR team aboard an SA Air Force 15 Squadron Charlie Flight BK-117 helicopter responded.
Shore patrols and a sea and air search continued.
One survivor was transferred from the Chokka fishing vessel Megalodon onto the NSRI sea rescue craft Spirit of St Francis II and he was brought to shore and he has been transported to hospital by Private Care ambulance services in a stable condition.
During a search members of the public, including the owner of other Chokka fishing boats, and NSRI rescuers, recovered 1 deceased fisherman on the shore in the vicinity of Sunset Rocks and 5 survivors were found on the beach at Sunset Rocks.
The deceased man has been taken into the care of the Forensic Pathology Services.
The Maredon was found capsized and hard aground at Sunset Rocks but surf conditions did not allow rescuers to get close to the stricken vessel during the high tide.
As high tide approached waves caused the stricken vessel to roll over a few times and one survivor was witnessed climbing out of the vessel and NSRI rescue swimmers waded into the water and rescued the survivor who has been airlifted to hospital by the SAAF 15 Squadron Charlie Flight helicopter in a stable condition.
At this stage there is 1 fishermen recovered and confirmed to be deceased, 7 survivors recovered of which 6 have been hospitalised and reported to be in stable conditions and 8 crew who are missing.
Efforts are underway to breach the hull of the boat as the tide recedes and a search and rescue operation continues.
This is an ongoing operation and updates will follow.
Police have opened an inquest docket and SAMSA (South African Maritime Safety Authority) are launching an investigation.
Sincrere Condolences are conveyed to family, friends and colleagues of the deceased fisherman.
Pictures: The Chokka fishing boat Maredon capsized at Sunset Rocks, Cape St Francis and the SAAF 15 Squadron Charlie Flight BK-117 helicopter overhead.