-18ºC: Nightmare for 4 friends trapped in snow for 20 hours

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st lesotho 4 Supplied TRIP ON ICE: Shani Coetzee, above, and three companions were stranded in the snow in the Lesotho mountains for almost 24 hours in their 4X4s. The car thermometer, below, stopped working when it hit -10�C. Other reports in the area indicate that temperatures dropped to -18�C. Picture: Raymond Shepherd

SHain Germaner, THERESA TAYLOR and Sapa

Four friends experienced the icy grip of Lesotho’s weather on the weekend when a trip to see the snow ended in their spending almost 24 hours buried in the stuff.

They were just a few of the many drivers reportedly stranded in the mountains over the weekend.

Raymond Shepherd, his girlfriend Shani Coetzee and friends Jan Thuynsma and Anli Moller were captivated by reports of snow, and wanted to go and see it for themselves. They were among many who felt the brunt of a weekend of wild weather that left five people dead, stranded motorists overnight, displaced 2 000 Port Elizabeth residents from their homes and inspired others to search for outdoor thrills.

On Saturday morning the two couples took their Toyota 4X4s and drove in tandem towards Lesotho.

By about 2pm they were unable to continue after they hit snow banks. They were stranded about 17km from the Kao Diamond Mine.

st lesotho 5 Supplied

Concerned with keeping warm, the four piled into Shepherd’s Toyota Fortuner and kept the engine running to maintain heat.

Shepherd, a member of 4x4community.co.za, posted an alert on the website’s forum, where hundreds of messages of support and advice came through.

After eight hours of waiting the car thermometer indicated that the temperatures had dropped to -10ºC and the engine failed after the diesel inside had frozen solid.

“We were lucky enough to be prepared,” Shepherd said this morning, explaining that many blankets, thick clothes and huddling together was enough to keep the foursome cosy enough to sleep.

Early yesterday morning they were found by mine workers who arrived in the area to clear the snow. A while later the roads were opened and they were able to start their cars and head home.

“I think we’ve all had our fill of snow after this weekend,” Shepherd told The Star this morning.

But to his internet buddies, Shepherd had this to say: “THANKS more than a million to everyone that posted, took our SMSs, sent support and advice.”

Emergency service ER24 headed to Lesotho yesterday morning after receiving numerous distress calls from motorists trapped on the Butha Buthe pass on the way to the Afri-Ski mountain resort and Oxbow Lodge, said ER24 spokesman Werner Vermaak.

Paramedics found nearly 30 vehicles stuck, or having been involved in collisions after skidding on ice, in a scene that stretched 1.5km.

“People were found with slight hypothermia and dehydration.

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