Party boat tragedy 'could have been so much worse'

2016-11-19 20:04
(Hartbeespoort Emergency Rescue Unit)

(Hartbeespoort Emergency Rescue Unit)

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Johannesburg – The tragedy on the Hartbeespoort Dam could have been much worse, a paramedic on the scene where a party boat caught fire, has said.

“It could have been so much worse. People jumped off the burning boat and got onto small boats that rushed over to rescue them. Some of these boats then also capsized,” Jerry Bouwer, senior paramedic of the Hartbeespoort Emergency Rescue Unit told Netwerk24.

He said 20 to 25 people were hanging from boats that could only carry up to eight people after the boat caught fire shortly after 14:00.

Pulane Xaba, who was on the boat, said there were various groups on board. Xaba was part of a group of teachers from Mpumalanga.

According to Xaba someone dropped a cigarette on the deck at the back of the boat where a smaller vessel was refuelling.

Shortly after the fire broke out, passengers were instructed to put on life jackets.

“We saw the flames and saw people jumping. Staff members tried to extinguish the blaze, even using the liquid inside cooler boxes,” Xaba said.

A search and rescue team was still searching for survivors.

All the bodies had been removed from the scene.

The body of one of the deceased is removed from the scene. (Nico Gous, Netwerk24)

Read more on:    pretoria  |  boat accident

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