Paramedics at Umdloti beach, north of Durban, where a man drowned. Picture: Reaction Unit South Africa

Durban - An Umdloti beach user has advised bathers to exercise caution when using tidal pools on the KwaZulu-Natal coast.

His warning comes after two people drowned, in separate incidents, at the Umdloti and Westbrook beaches north of Durban on Thursday. 

In the first incident, IPSS Medical Rescue spokesperson Paul Herbst said a family had been enjoying a day at the beach near the Westbrook beach. Herbst said a man went swimming but had gotten into difficulties in the water and drowned. The man was believed to be in his 40s and resided in oThongathi. 

Hours later a man drowned on Umdloti Beach. Reaction Unit, South Africa (RUSA) spokesperson Prem Balram said onlookers had seen the man go underwater and disappear near the tidal pool area. The man is believed to be residing in Verulam. Balram said he was washed out to sea by the current.

“Police Search and Rescue divers entered the water and recovered the victim's body. Medics who were on standby on the beach declared him dead,” Balram said. 

Reacting to the news of the drownings on Facebook sites, Alvan Govender said the tidal pool at Umdloti took many lives in recent years. He explained what happens at the tidal pool in Umdloti. 

Govender said, "People head for the flat rocks at the far end of pool. Many don't know how to swim or even what to do in a case of been pulled out between the rocks into open ocean. People take heed of this tragedy to learn that the ocean is very powerful and when the tide changes from high going into low, the suction is stronger and u need to stay away from the edges." 

"I have also lost a friend many years back at Umhloti. He was a strong swimmer but when getting pulled out he hit his head on the rocks and lost conscious and he was never found. The currents change very quickly and the rip tide was strong. Don't go for the far rocks guys, its where these tragedy take place. I have seen on my numerous visits, people grow in confidence the longer they play in the water. Please don't underestimate the power of water. As for the lifeguards someone mentioned about time delay, they risk their lives to safe others and most of them volunteer and are not paid. Please don't play the blame game, and be more careful when at the beach." Govender added.

Police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele said that at 17:45, Police Divers from DBN SAPS Search Rescue, eThekwini Lifeguards, Life Response EMS, IPSS Aquatic Rescue team and Tongaat SAPS responded to a report of a drowning in the Westbrook area.

She said on arrival at Casuarina Beach they were informed that a 45-year-old man got into difficulty and drowned. 

The body was recovered and an inquest docket was opened at Tongaat for investigation. 

Mbele said while the rescue teams were at Westbrook they received a complaint of a drowning at Umdloti beach and proceeded to the scene.

She said,"On arrival they recovered the body of 32-year-old man who drowned while swimming. An inquest docket was opened at Durban North police station for investigation."

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