Missing hikers found in Fish River Canyon

2011-07-22 10:11
Johannesburg - Three South African hikers were found in the Fish River Canyon in Namibia late on Thursday afternoon, three days after they went missing.

A search was launched to find air force official Rick Harmse, 45, his wife, Sandra, 42, and René Booysen after they failed to turn up at their destination on Monday afternoon,

The Harmses are from Theresa Park in northern Pretoria.

The missing hikers were part of a group of seven who had gone hiking in the canyon.

Helicopter

Group member Rina Vrey said a helicopter started looking for the missing hikers on Thursday afternoon after search parties found nothing in three days of searching on foot.

The three hikers were seen from the helicopter and picked up about three kilometres from Ai-Ais, right behind the camp. They had gotten lost, but were unhurt.

Vrey said that on Monday the hiking group had to climb over a huge boulder to get out of the ravine, about 15km from the last camp at Ai-Ais.

The Harmses and Booysen fell back because the two women were very tired and Booysen had blisters on her feet.

“He said they would meet us by the river,” said Vrey.

“We waited for them for an hour-and-a-half but they didn’t come out of the ravine.

“We went back to where we had left them, but couldn’t find them.”

The group made camp for the night.

On Tuesday morning, Vrey and Pieter Botes went to Ai-Ais to get help while Marius Rohlandt and his wife, Rentia, went back to where they had left the hikers.

The Rohlandts returned to Ai-Ais on Tuesday evening.

Children 'in a state'

On Wednesday, Rohlandt went with rangers to look for the missing three hikers but they didn’t find anything.

He fell during the search and hurt his arm.

In the three days that the hikers were missing, several hiking groups came out of the canyon, but no-one had seen them.

Catharine Teague, a friend of the Harmses, said she and the couple’s two daughters, Shana-Lee, 18, and Rolize, 17, only realised something had gone wrong on Tuesday evening when the couple didn’t come home.

They found out on Wednesday that the couple had not yet come out of the canyon. “The children were in a state,” said Teague.
 
Read more on:    namibia  |  southern africa  |  search and rescue
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