Joint rescue operations help four cars in flooded rivers

2008-01-16 00:00

A dramatic rescue operation played itself out at Port Edward on Monday night after flood waters engulfed a vehicle in a swollen river.

Mick Banks station commander at the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) said that they responded to the Old Pont Road at Port Edward, following reports of a Johannesburg couple trapped in their vehicle in flooded river rapids after being washed into the river while attempting to cross a small flooded bridge on the road.

“Netcare 911 Ambulance Services, Ubuntu Lifeguard Services, SA Police Services and the Fire and Rescue Services also responded.

“On arrival on-scene, in what is usually a small mostly dry stream, the couple, Brian Cross (52) and his wife Lorraine (49) from Edenvale in Johannesburg … were found on the roof of their vehicle clinging to the roof, surrounded by swift flooded water rapids.”

He said that the vehicle was found pinned in the river by a tree that had penetrated the left back door and was wedged through the back seat.

“In a joint operation rescuers rigged ropes and pully systems to reach the couple, who were both in imminent danger of being swept down the river and over a nearby waterfall.”

Banks said that they were brought safely to land where they were treated for hypothermia.

The couple had been on holiday at the Wild Coast Casino and were returning to their lodgings during heavy rains when they came across what appeared to them to be shallow water flowing over a small bridge.

Lorraine said her husband was certain his 4x4 vehicle would make it through the water, but as they entered the water the vehicle was carried away like a “cork” and they were struck by tree logs, before a tree ruptured their left back door coming to rest across the back seat and bringing the vehicle to a sudden halt in the middle of the rapids.

According to Banks, if the tree hadn’t stopped the car, it would have gone over the waterfall.

Occupants of another three vehicles that were washed away by rivers were assisted in the same area last night, reported Banks. No fatalities or injuries were reported.

Meanwhile, the Durban NSRI searched for an angler who had apparently gone for a swim and disappeared in the surf at North beach. “NSRI Durban launched our rescue craft Megan II and following an extensive search no sign of the missing man has been found.”

Details of the man, who is believed to be from Durban, have not been released.

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