Major search for missing diver ends well, Hibberdene, South Coast
A major search for a missing female diver on Saturday, 25 February 2023, on the South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal, ended well. Kevin Fourie, National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) Rocky Bay station commander, said, “At 10h32, Friday, 24 February, NSRI Rocky Bay duty crew were activated following reports of a diver missing off-shore of Hibberdene on the KZN South Coast. A female diver, aged in her 50s, from Johannesburg, had last been seen at around 08h30 during a charter dive approximately three nautical miles off-shore of the Mzimayi River. The dive charter boat had initiated a search.
“The NSRI Rocky Bay rescue craft Megan II and the NSRI Shelly Beach rescue craft Spirit of Dawn were launched while NSRI Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), NSRI Headquarters duty controllers, NSRI Rocky Bay duty controllers, NSRI Durban duty controllers and NSRI Shelly Beach duty controllers assisted Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) to plot search grids taking into account sea currents drift and wind speed and wind direction. NSRI Port Edward and NSRI Durban were placed on alert”, said Fourie.
Two private fixed-wing aircraft joined in the search.
“MRCC activated the South African Air Force 15 Squadron who deployed a SAAF 15 Squadron BK-119 helicopter to join in the search, accompanied by NSRI Durban rescue swimmers.”
“Telkom Maritime Radio Services broadcast an all ships alert for vessels in the area to keep a sharp lookout and they assisted with VHF radio communications.”
“The husband and two sons of the missing diver, who had been on the same dive, were kept briefed and comforted at the NSRI Rocky Bay rescuer station while they anxiously waited on news.”
“During an extensive search the husband received a call on his mobile phone from an unknown number at around 14h00. His wife had come ashore on the Southern side of Mtwalumi at around 13h30 and she had hiked to a roadway where she came across a resident at his home and he provided assistance and she was able to call her husband. The dive charter company transported the husband to the location and the casualty was brought to the dive charter companies offices.”
“She was hydrated and rested but was otherwise not injured. We believe she had covered about 10 nautical miles over 5 hours before coming ashore. NSRI commend the diver for staying calm as she gradually used currents to make it safely to the shore. She had hiked a few kilometres before reaching the resident who assisted her.”
“The dive charter company, the private fixed wing aircraft and all rescue resources involved are commended for the swift reaction and the extensive search operation.”
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