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There remains no indication as to why red distress flares were fired at sea on Sunday. NSRI Port Alfred were alerted at 12h46, Sunday, 5 February.

Gerrit Cloete, NSRI Port Alfred deputy station commander, said:

Maritime authorities monitored during this past week after an incident on Sunday where a public member reported 2 red distress flares deployed in close succession in the vicinity off-shore of Kleinemond.

While alerting NSRI a third red distress flare was sighted in the same vicinity.

NSRI Port Alfred duty controllers were dispatched to the residence while the NSRI rescue craft Lotto Challenger and Rescue 11 Alpha were launched.

It was determined that the flares may have been fired at least 2 to 3 nautical miles off-shore.

NSRI Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), MRCC (Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre) and Telkom Maritime Radio Services initiated protocols including preparing search areas, taking weather, tide and drift currents into account, and broadcasting an all ships alert for vessels in the area to keep a close watch.

43 Air School were alerted and a private aircraft that was in the vicinity diverted and assisted in a search.

An additional 3 private aircraft searched at the request of 43 Air School while en route through the area.

A fishing vessel that was in the area reported that they had not witnessed the flares and they kept a watch.

An extensive searched continued until sunset but no sign of any persons or vessel in distress was found.

The concern was that the flares may have been deployed by a lone paddler but that has been ruled out after no persons related to this incident have been as reported as missing or overdue.

NSRI are appealing to the public, the boating and the fishing communities not to set off red distress flares unless in an emergency.

Expired flares should be handed in at a marine retailer that is licensed to handle flares or at the SA Police Services.

The public member eye-witness, the assisting aircraft and all involved are commended.

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