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At 13h34, Thursday, 12 January, NSRI Ballito duty crew were activated following reports of 3 men overdue on their fishing ski-boat.

Family reported the 3 men overdue. Their boat could be seen off-shore of the Tugela River Mouth however the boat appeared to be unmanned.

They had departed earlier from that vicinity but had failed to return at an expected time.

NSRI requested Tugela lifeguards to investigate, a lifeguard rescue craft attended at the casualty boat, about 3 nautical miles off-shore, finding the boat unmanned.

NSRI Ballito duty crew and IPSS medical rescue responded. An NSRI Ballito rescue craft and 2 IPSS rescue craft were launched at Zinkwazi assisted by ski-boat club members.

Mandeni lifeguards refuelled their craft and initiated a search for the 3 men who were suspected to be missing at sea.

3 Mandeni lifeguards rescue craft, 2 at Tugela and 1 at Dokudweni and a private vessel joined in a search operation.

Zinkwazi ski-boat club, Tugela ski-boat club and Mtunzini ski-boat club assisted.

MRCC (Maritime rescue Coordination Centre) authorised the Transnet Ports helicopter to join in the search while instructing Telkom Maritime Radio Services to broadcast an all ships alert.

The NSRI Durban rescue craft Alec Rennie was launched while Transnet National Ports Authority activated the Transnet Ports helicopter accompanied by NSRI Durban rescue swimmers.

Search patterns were plotted taking into account sea drift, wind speed and direction.

Telkom Maritime Radio Services immediately broadcast an all ships alert requesting vessels in the area to keep a sharp lookout.

Additional emergency services resources were alerted and NSRI Richards Bay were activated and launched the rescue craft Spirit of Richards Bay.

3 Zinkwazi ski-boat club craft were launched to join in a search.

NSRI Ballito set up a tow of the casualty vessel bringing her safely to shore where they were assisted by ski-boat club members on the beach to recover the boat.

During a search IPSS medical rescue located the 3 adult males on the beach about 3 kilometers North of the Tugela River Mouth.

It appears that they had broached a wave while returning to shore causing them to be thrown from the casualty boat.

They had been in the water for about 3 and half hours adrift and swimming towards shore when they managed to reach the beach.

The 3 KZN men, age 63, 23 and 22, were checked by paramedics and although exhausted, dehydrated and sunburnt they are all okay and recovering.

The swift response is commended.

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