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Cape Town - Two teenage pupils are missing and presumed dead after being swept out to sea at Camps Bay beach late on Wednesday afternoon.
The boys, both aged 16, went into the water to rescue a friend, 15, who was struggling against the rip current at around 5pm. The 15-year-old was rescued by a bystander and taken to hospital in a stable condition.
The teenagers were on a school tour to Cape Town from the North West province. They attend RB Dithupe Primary in Zeerust, and were due to return home by bus on Thursday.
The two missing boys were caught in the current that washes from the middle of Camps Bay beach out towards Glen Beach.
They disappeared beneath the surf within five minutes.
The NSRI were the first to respond, launching a search-and-rescue vessel and divers into the water. Two hours after the boys’ disappearance, spokesman Craig Lambinon said there was little chance they were still alive.
James Thomsom, vice-president of the Clifton Surf Lifesaving Club, was already on his way to the beach for a game of touch rugby when the first sign of distress was noticed. Five minutes later, the boys had already disappeared beneath the waves.
“Where these guys got in trouble there is a strong rip current,” he said. “It wouldn’t pull them too far out, but it would make it very hard for them to swim to shore.”
He said the water was around 13 degrees at the time. “The waves, the cold and the rip current are a cocktail for trouble.”
Metro Rescue had four divers in the water, working alongside the NSRI against the fading light.
By 7pm it was too dark and they called off the search. Spokesman Alistair Christians said the divers would continue at first light.
A Skymed helicopter was also dispatched to the scene but retired when daylight faded.
At 7.30pm, Lambinon said the case was no longer a rescue mission, and had been handed over to police divers to recover the bodies.
NSRI would continue to assist with beach patrols as low tide approached.
The classmates and teachers of the missing boys received trauma counselling immediately. The school’s principal was still trying to contact the parents of the missing children at the time of going to press.
Cadet News Agency