Rugby player drowns, 5 team mates missing

2012-03-25 19:13
Port Elizabeth - A Motherwell rugby player has drowned and five of his team mates are missing after they were swept out to sea by rip-currents at Bluewater Bay beach in the Eastern Cape on Sunday.

The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) said it had rescued 15 of 21 people who had been swept out by rip currents earlier in the day.

"Not all of them were rugby players," said spokesperson Craig Lambinon.

Some of the 21 were members of the public.

He, however, confirmed that the deceased was from the rugby team and the missing five were his team mates.

Lambinon clarified that it was one incident which resulted in many people being swept out.

The rescue team was alerted of the incident at around midday.

Three people at a time

An extensive search had been launched to find the missing men.

Lambinon said three sea rescue craft, rescue rubber-ducks, a jet-ski, and a helicopter was utilised in the search.

Lifeguards were also swimming to check for them.

By Sunday afternoon, Lambinon said there was no sign of the five.

Lifeguard's from the beach's life saving club had swam out to help when the incident took place.

"Some of the lifeguards had rescued up to three people at a time," said Lambinon.

"Of the 15 people rescued alive none were required to go to hospital although some were treated for shock and near drowning symptoms on the beach by paramedics."

The deceased's body has been handed to the Forensic Pathology Service.

Police have opened an inquest docket.

The beach was closed to swimming at 14:00 by the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality.

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