Ricochet News

Missing paddlers found safe on the Fish River near Port Alfred

Mar 12, 2018
Missing paddlers found safe on the Fish River near Port Alfred

Eight paddlers were found safe together on the Fish River after being reported missing over the weekend.

"There was no cell phone signal where they were located," described National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) Spokesperson, Craig Lambinon.

According to friends and family, the paddlers had been dropped off up river on Friday afternoon to paddle down river, but failed to arrive as expected on Saturday.

"On Sunday afternoon, at 16h00 the alarm was raised and NSRI Port Alfred and emergency services were alerted.

"NSRI Port Alfred, an SA Police Services K-9 Search and Rescue officer, Nature Conservation rangers and Traffic Services officers launched a search for 2 of the party who had been reported to be missing from the main group," he said.

"Fire and Rescue Services, the SA Air Force 15 Squadron (Charlie Flight), EMS and the Mountain Club of South Africa remained on alert."

Lambinon said that a farmer had gone to the original location where they had been spotted after a volunteered private fixed wing aircraft had spotted the group during a search earlier on Sunday late afternoon.

"The farmer found all eight persons at that location, but unable to communicate with the search party due to no cellphone signal."

According to the group, the two missing men had gone to where they could find a cellphone signal, at 17h00, they had made a call to a friend when cellphone signal was again lost so they retreated back to the main group.

"The search party who were searching for these two missing men backtracked to that original location of the main group where it was then confirmed that all 8 persons in the party were safe," Lambinon said.

"Hippos that had apparently earlier blocked their progress were in the vicinity, but not posing any danger.

"A sea rescue craft that was being launched to head up river was informed to stand down."

He said that all eight persons chose to remain on the river and not be escorted out by the rescue party.

"They are all adults reportedly from East London. No further assistance was required."