10 January 2006

South Africa: Divers rescued off Robberg after being swept out

Two divers were rescued after being swept out to sea off the Robberg Nature Reserve at Plettenberg Bay yesterday.

NSRI Plettenberg Bay station commander Ray Farnham said the local sea rescue team and the Vodacom Netcare 911 surf rescue helicopter had been called out at 1pm after reports of people shouting for help offshore at Robberg Point.

Local dive master Jan-Harm Venter, 24, and Johannesburg resident Liesel Retief, 18, got into trouble when they were separated from the rest of a diving group.

The group had been dropped off at a well-known diving spot called Whale Rock, about a kilometre offshore from the nature reserve.

When the two surfaced, they had drifted about 150 metres away from the pick-up point and were being blown out to sea by a strong easterly wind in two-metre swells.

They tried to signal the rubberduck using whistles and hand signals, but after some time the rubberduck left the area and appeared to be returning to Plettenberg Bay.

While the divers' craft returned to shore to raise the alarm, some hikers at the nature reserve noticed the two in the water and called for help.

In addition to the launch of two inflatable rescue boats, the search was assisted by local resident Glen Brown's helicopter.

The pair were spotted from the chopper and rescued by boat.

"Both are relieved to be safe, and following treatment for hypothermia and bluebottle stings, they have both been discharged in a satisfactory condition," Farnham said.

Source: www.theherald.co.za/herald/news


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