Sudden Umfolozi flood puts 11 in peril

2012-11-12 00:00

THE National Sea Rescue Institute in Richards Bay rescued 11 people and a dog stranded on an island on the Umfolozi River after the river suddenly came down in flood yesterday afternoon.

Dorian Robertson, the NSRI Richards Bay senior coxswain (who oversees a lifeboat and its crew), said the people were rescued between Mtubatuba and St Lucia.

“The 11 people — the youngest being 13 and the oldest 50 years old — and the dog began to cross the river at lunchtime when the river began to flood, trapping them on an island in the torrent.

“We suspect that rainfall at the catchment area, further up stream, had caused the river to flood, despite there being no rain in the immediate area.

“They alerted a local induna of their predicament and he called the police to raise the alarm,” said Robertson.

He said they negotiated the rural roads in 4x4 to find the location.

“On arrival on the scene we found the 11 local people and their dog trapped on the island, and about 20 other locals on our side of the river also came to help.

“We were faced with a steep, barely accessible bank leading on to the river and we could find no way to launch our sea rescue craft on to the river, so the 20 locals cut a path for us, using their pangas.

“We dropped off one NSRI rescuer on the island and in five relays we transported all 11 people and their dog across the river to safety,” said Robertson.

No one was injured.

— Witness Reporters.

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