'You’re trapped with water rising' - mom describes flash flood in tunnel with child

2017-06-12 21:26
Elizma and Xander de Jager. (Supplied to Tygerburger)

Elizma and Xander de Jager. (Supplied to Tygerburger)

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Cape Town - A mom realised that if she let go of her son's hand, he would drown in Cape Town's underground tunnels.

"It was terrible. I didn’t think we would survive," said Elizma de Jager after she and a group of friends and their children barely escaped a terrifying flash flood on Saturday morning.

"You're trapped underground with water rising around you. And people are being swept away. And you've got to save the little boy with you," she told Tygerburger.

Elizma and her son Xander, 7, were on a guided tour of the underground tunnels at the Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town as part of a birthday party for a friend of his.

The six boys who attended the party are all in Grade 1 at Eversdal Primary in the city’s northern suburbs.  

Six parents escorted the children and along with about 13 other people, most of them tourists, took part in the guided tour.

The tunnels date back to the 17th century and apparently were used to provide water for the Company's Garden from Table Mountain and surrounding areas.

According to Elizma they were supposed to have first visited the Castle, but when it started raining, the tour guide suggested they do the tunnels first.

However, the water soon rose and started flowing stronger.

"At some stage the message came that we should turn back, but the water was so strong that one could hardly hear the person next to you."

They turned back and the tour guides raced ahead. Elizma said they were petrified. "The children started screaming and the people panicked."

The parents picked up the boys and walked with them, but even that became difficult because of the fast-flowing water.  

All of a sudden it became so strong that people were washed away. Elizma and Xander tripped over another parent and fell into the water. However, they surfaced again.  

She saw the other parent being washed away and believed they were all going to die.

Eventually someone opened a manhole near them and let down a ladder to save them.

People who had been in the tour group with them, went looking for those who had been swept away. They were found at another manhole further down the tunnel and were rescued.

Many of those who had been underground sustained minor injuries. Elizma says they are still stiff and sore from the water.

"I am just so grateful that we are safe. It could have been much worse." 

Read more on:    cape town  |  weather  |  drownings

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