Unconfirmed reports are that staff from the KZN sharks board had died after their boat capsized in Richards Bay. Image from Clint Dreyer from WhatsApp Surf Group.

Durban -  Staff of the KwaZulu Natal sharks board based in Richards Bay drowned on Wednesday morning when their boat capsized whilst inspecting shark nets.

While details were sketchy on the number of people that died, two videos of the boat washing up close to shore was put up on Facebook but were quickly deleted as news spread of the incident through surfing social media groups. 

At least five people were on board at the time.

One of the videos seen by the Daily News shows a man with red swimming trunks pulling a man out of the water near a rocky shoreline. He was assisted by men wearing blue overalls. The video shows what looked like another body in the distance on the sand a few meters away from the water line. 

Another man appeared to be treated by bystanders. An overturned boat can be seen near the shore and it could not be confirmed if it belonged to the sharks board or how many people had died. 

Surf Alliance, a Facebook group, said some bad news from Alkantstrand in Richards Bay where reports say a Sharks Board boat flipped in rough seas.

Surf Alliance wrote: "Apparently there are fatalities. Rescue personnel are on the scene."

Mike Anderson Reade, spokesperson for the KZN Sharks board was not available for comment. 

The MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA), Sihle Zikalala and the CEO of KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board, Mthokozisi Radebe are expected to visit Newark Beach in Richards Bay. 

A statement on the EDTEA Facebook page said details of the incident still remain sketchy. 

"A boat allegedly capsized while carrying five Sharks Board employees. A rescue operation is currently taking place," the statement said. 

The KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board has 37 beaches equipped with bather safety gear. Most of the shark nets deployed by the KZNSB are 214m long and 6m deep and are secured at each end by two 35kg anchors; all have a stretched mesh of 51cm. The nets are laid in two parallel rows approximately 400m offshore and in water depths of 10-14m. They are inspected daily. 

The KZNSB with over 50 years of experience, is the oldest and only organisation in South Africa dedicated to providing bather protection against sharks. 

This is a developing story*

Daily News