Rescuers bring 21 trapped on Dappat se Gat to safety

2015-01-25 21:19


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Cape Town - A group of 20 people trapped by the incoming tide in a cove at Dappat se Gat, Kogelbaai, have been rescued.

NSRI spokesperson Craig Lambinon said on Sunday night that several people apparently had gone to the popular coved beach during the current new moon Spring low tide, not realising that high tide would cut them off from the mainland. 

He said they realised that getting rescue swimmers into the cove in an attempt to get the people off, was too dangerous. Sea rescue craft would not be able to get close enough to extricate the group of people from the sea side without incredible risk.

Lambinon said the help of the Western Cape's EMS rescue squad and the Red Cross AMS Skymed rescue helicopter was called in. Cape Town fire and rescue services and the police were also dispatched. 

The decision was taken to hoist as many people as possible out of the cove in relays using the Skymed rescue helicopter, while NSRI rescue swimmers and the sea rescue craft stood by to retrieve anyone who got swept into the ocean.

"It appears that they were not aware of the new moon Spring tide and that the sea would cut off the popular cove at high tide."  

EMS rescue diver Jason Higgins supervised the rescue and all 20 were hoisted out of the cove by the rescue helicopter using a "short haul rescue technique".

"As the tide rose, eventually everyone was huddled to a corner of the cove and in relays of 5 persons at a time the they were kitted into harnesses by Jason and static line hoisted to mainland where additional rescuers were on hand to receive them," said Lambinon. 

He said the rescue helicopter had reached its fuel limit when the last group were hoisted off the island and the helicopter was forced to return to base having successfully completed the rescue operation.

It then emerged that one more person was still trapped in the cove. The man hadn't been able to raise the alarm as he'd been hidden from view. All his wife could tell the rescuers was where he'd last been seen.

A rescue team from Wilderness Search and Rescue was deployed from the land side and they rescued the 45-year-old man after negotiating steep cliffs to reach him.

When rescue teams were finally leaving the scene most of the rocks were under water, said Lambinon.

He said even if they'd huddled at the highest point on the cove, it may only have been at around midnight before they would have had any chance to get back to the mainland.

He said most of the 21, dressed in normal day beach wear, would have succumbed to hypothermia by then. There was also a strong possibility that some of them might have been swept to sea by the high tide. 

Read more on:    nsri  |  cape town  |  search and rescue

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