30 cars stuck on pass - 41 people rescued

2012-07-15 19:34

Bethlehem - A major rescue operation on Sunday saw 41 people trapped on the Butha Buthe Pass en route to Afri-Ski and the Oxbow Lodge, in Lesotho, brought to safety.

ER 24’s Werner Vermaak said they’d started getting distress calls at about 10:00 from people trapped on the Lesotho side of the border.  

He said the ER24 Bethlehem station is familiar with the pass and its dangers, and a strategic plan was devised. 

“Shortly after 11:00 paramedics arrived at the scene where they found that almost 30 vehicles were either stuck, or involved in collisions as they skidded on the icy surface.”

Paramedics from ER24 assessed the incident that stretched over 1.5km.

Several people had mild hypothermia or were dehydrated. One of the patients was a diabetic and needed urgent assistance as his medication was running out.

Another was treated for asthma on the scene. A heavily pregnant woman and a child with croup were also assessed, said Vermaak.

Paramedics were assisted by members from the 4x4 Club to access some of the difficult areas.

Vermaak thanked Christo Davids (4x4 Club and local mine) and Kobus vd Berg (4x4 Club Kimberley) for gathering their club’s food and water and then handing it out to the people that were stranded on the pass.

All of the people were assisted and transported by an ER24 shuttle ambulance to a temporary clinic set up in Fouriesburg.

They were later transferred, once medically cleared, to guesthouses in the area. A total of 41 people were assessed and treated by emergency staff.

A team effort between private emergency services and the local community made it possible to assist everyone on the pass.

  • Arlene Levitan - 2012-07-15 20:06

    What a great story, people helping one another to do some good. Glad everyone is okay.

  • jeeves.eddings - 2012-07-15 20:08

    Hectic, we got stuck on that exact pass two weeks ago. If the road is in shadow (sun behind clouds or mountains), it literally ices up in front of your eyes and you start to slide backwards down that hill. Scary as hell!

  • donthato - 2012-07-15 20:11

    Heavy days. My thoughts and prayers are with those trapped in the areas. Oooh, and the cattle! Livestock losses are not ideal.

      Lacrimose - 2012-07-15 20:42

      Livestock, crops, kids can't get to school, pensions, grants, medical supplies can't get through. The knock-on effect will be severe.

  • charmaine.rowlands - 2012-07-16 01:26

    Well done ER24 and the 4x4 Club! Was so worried about those people when we heard it on the news. Glad to hear they were taken care of Spare a thought, a blanket a warm meal for those less fortunate... and the poor animals. Animal shelters all over SA are inundated with stranded, almost drowned, starving, freezing pets! If each of us do just ONE good deed... IMAGINE

  • theprodigy.brian - 2012-07-16 08:48

    well done guys

  • carmen.burlo - 2012-07-17 09:38

    Wow.. this is scary!! We will be going to Afriski in August - Is this road really that bad?? Also, we will be travelling in Hatchbacks.. Not sure we are going to make it this year :(

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