Ten rescued in Ulundi flash flood drama

2014-12-13 00:00

WHAT began as a rescue of four boys turned into an exhausting, dramatic ordeal of rescuing ten people from a flash flood in the Umfolozi River.

Four boys aged 12 to 15 had been swimming in the river near Ulundi on Thursday when the flood hit.

Four boys aged 12 to 15 had been swimming in the river near Ulundi on Thursday when the flood hit.

Five local men tried to rescue the stranded boys before they had to perch on rocks and needed to be rescued themselves.

KZN Emergency Medical ­Services and police Search and Rescue personnel responded after receiving an emergency call at 3.30 pm.

After the mission began, a tenth person trying to aid the paramedics also needed to be rescued.

An onlooker said the people who needed to be rescued clung onto rocks to save themselves.

“Each had to be taken out one by one with the small search and rescue team consisting of just four members,” he said.

EMS spokesperson Robert McKenzie said a member of the police rescue team had to hike up the river about 600 metres before entering the rapidly flowing waters and swimming to each child to pull them to safety.

“This was an exhausting rescue for the rescue swimmer, and it took several hours to rescue all of them,” he said.

The onlooker said the medics kept the victims calm through the entire ordeal.

Once all had been rescued, they were examined by the paramedics and found to be in good health. “They decided that they didn’t want to go to hospital and that they just wanted to go home as they were very hungry and tired,” he said.

McKenzie urged people to be cautious when crossing rivers, even those that look shallow, due to the risk of underwater obstacles and flash floods which can occur, especially in summer.

“Crossing a river alone is also not recommended. It is better to do so as a group,” he said. — WR.

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