31 August 2005

South Africa: Seven sailors hauled to safety in PE rescue

Seven men were hauled to safety in a dramatic sea rescue in icy waters between Port Elizabeth and Port Alfred on Tuesday.

National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) emergency workers flew to the scene aboard a police helicopter to find three men in the water, clinging to a fast-sinking boat 200m offshore behind the breaker line.

Four more were still aboard the 21-foot butt-cat, which was reported drifting without power 27 nautical miles towards Port Alfred, near Bird Island.

NSRI Port Elizabeth Operations Controller Gavin Riddle said they had feared the boat was in danger of washing ashore amid two-metre swells and 30 knot (55.5km/h) westerly winds.

Rescuers had got there to find the vessel in danger of drifting into the two-metre breaking surf. Four men had been hoisted aboard the helicopter and taken to shore individually, he said.

The deep-sea rescue craft had then towed the sinking boat out of the surf to calmer waters with three crew still on board. They had been transferred later to the rescue craft.

None of the seven crew had sustained any injuries, said Riddle. The boat had been stabilised at sea and would be towed back to Port Elizabeth.

Source: www.iol.co.za


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