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Cape Town - Three teams of divers have resumed a search for two missing boys who are feared to have drowned at Camps Bay beach on Wednesday afternoon.
“Depending on conditions, in my previous experience, it can take up to three or four days for the bodies to resurface,” said James Thomsom, vice-president of the Clifton Surf Lifesaving Club.
Divers from Metro Emergency Medical Services, Fire and Rescue Services and the police entered the ocean shortly after dawn. They were supported by police jet skiers and the K-9 unit.
Two teenagers went missing and are presumed dead after they were swept out to sea 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. He did not sustain serious injuries and was discharged from hospital this morning, said an EMS spokesman.
The teenagers were on a school tour from North West Province. They attend RB Dithupe Intermediate School in Zeerust, and were due to return home by bus on Thursday.
NSRI spokesman Craig Lambinon said the pupils and teachers from the school would be brought to the beach for “closure” before embarking on their trip home. They were scheduled to arrive at the beach at noon.
The Cape Argus attempted to get comment from the school, but was told by Lambinon that the governing body had asked staff not to talk to the media.
“We have offered a direct line of communication to the parents of the two children, but thus far they have not contacted us. The school’s staff are currently in contact with them. When the time is right, arrangements will be made for the parents to travel to Cape Town to collect the remains and to have a memorial service at the beach, if they so wish,” said Lambinon.
The two missing boys were caught in the current that washes from the middle of Camps Bay beach out towards Glen Beach.
The NSRI were the first to respond, launching a search-and-rescue vessel and divers into the water.
Two hours after the boys’ disappearance, Lambinon said there was little chance they were still alive.
Thomsom was 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.”
Thomsom added that the incident could have been avoided if lifesavers had been on duty. But it is still the off-season, and lifesavers are not stationed until summer sets in and the beaches get busier.
“If a large group of children are on their way to the beach for an outing, I would suggest that lifesavers are alerted so that special arrangements can be made,” he said.
The classmates and teachers of the missing boys received trauma counselling soon after the incident yesterday.