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NSRI EMERGENCY
OPERATION CENTRE (EOC)

087 094 9774

Charles Hutchins, NSRI Oyster Bay shore controller, said: At 07h40, Friday, 3 May, NSRI Storms River duty crew and SA National Parks Tsitsikamma Park rangers were activated following reports of 2 hikers stranded on rocks, in a gulley along the shoreline of the Otter trail, after being swept out to sea at the Bloukrans River mouth.

A hiker, one of a group of hikers on the Otter trail, had climbed a cliff and used an 'escape route' trail to reach a cellphone signal to call SANParks to raise the alarm.

NSRI Storms River dispatched NSRI rescue swimmers and SA National Parks, Storms River Tsitsikamma National Parks rangers responded.

NSRI Oyster Bay duty crew were alerted and prepared to launch an NSRI rescue craft.

It appears that the group of hikers, hiking on the Otter trail, were crossing through the Bloukrans River when the 2 ladies, in the hiking group, were caught in the outgoing current and were both swept out of the Bloukrans River Mouth, but apparently not able to swim they had used their back packs to stay afloat.

They were able to both reached rocks in a gulley along the shoreline where they were then trapped on the rocks, unable to climb the steep cliff and unable to reach the trail path through the water.

At that stage it was low tide but turning towards high tide.

The initial consideration, to affect a successful rescue, was deemed safest for NSRI rescue swimmers to swim both of them out to sea to an NSRI rescue craft, rather than to try to bring them ashore on the rocky coastline, but this would be evaluated on the rescue teams arriving on site.

On the barely accessible terrain all wheel drive vehicles were used to get as close to the location as possible - the NSRI rescue swimmers and SANPark rangers then hiked to the location finding both ladies trapped on rocks in a gulley with the gradually increasing risk of the incoming tide.

4 NSRI rescue swimmers swam to the 2 hikers.

On reaching the 2 hikers the 4 NSRI Storms River rescue swimmers evaluated conditions and it was decided that it would be best to swim them through the gulley to the shore side.

The NSRI rescue swimmers secured the 2 ladies into PFD's (Personal Floatation Devices) and in relays of one at a time they were swum to shore, to the other side of the gulley, assisted by the NSRI rescue swimmers and by the SANPark rangers.

Once safely ashore, and found to be not injured from the incident, they elected to carry on their hike.

They had sufficient dry gear and support from their fellow hikers, and it was deemed safe for them to continue on their hike.

About 25 minutes after NSRI crew and the SANParks rangers got them safely off the rocks to the other side of the gulley, through the water, and to the trail path, the rocks that they had earlier been trapped on were engulfed in waves at the high tide.

The couple, as well as the group of hikers, were wished well on their way and they continued on their hike.

During the rescue operation wind speeds picked up to around 30 knots.


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