Three drown in rivers

2011-11-22 00:00

THREE people drowned on the South Coast over the weekend as a result of high water levels and heavy rain. Search-and-rescue teams have recovered two bodies and will continue the search for the third body today.

On Sunday afternoon six children were swimming in the Mphambanyoni River in Umzinto when one of the banks collapsed.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Zandra Wiid said, “The children were playing near where they do sand dredging. One of the banks collapsed and they fell into the deep river water.”

Four of the children managed to get out safely. “The other two children disappeared into the deep water. Search-and-rescue were called out to the scene,” said Wiid.

The divers searched on Sunday but could not find the bodies. The search was called off due to bad weather and darkness falling.

The search resumed yesterday morning.

“Divers recovered the body of a 15-year-old boy this morning [yesterday] but still could not find the second missing child,” Wiid said.

The search for the body of the 14-year-old boy will resume today.

On Friday evening, Sikhona Khawula (35) and three other people were crossing the Mbizana River in Gamalakhe when he slipped and fell into the river.

Sergeant Phumzile Makahuala said, “The river was in flood and strong current in the river carried him away.”

The search-and-rescue unit looked for his body on Friday and Saturday but could not find it.

“On Sunday his family spotted the body on the opposite side and search-and-rescue was called in to recover it,” she said.

Wiid urged the public to be cautious when crossing or playing in rivers.

She said heavy rains have increased the water levels in the rivers and the weather forecast this week predicted 60% chances of rain and thunderstorms, and sea swells of up to 3,5-metres for the South Coast.

She added that with the humidity, many people are looking to cool off in water.

“Every year we find that with the hot season there are lots of drownings because people who cannot swim get into the water and get into difficulty. They must swim in designated areas and shallow waters,” Wiid added.

• witness@feveronline.co.za

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