Jabula Beach in St Lucia.
Jabula Beach in St Lucia.

iSimangaliso sends condolences to family of St Lucia teen who was swept out to sea

By Karen Singh Time of article published Oct 14, 2021

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DURBAN - POLICE are still searching for the missing 14-year-old boy who is presumed drowned after he was swept out to sea at Jabula Beach in St Lucia on Monday.

Provincial police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele told The Mercury today the search for the missing 14-year-old boy is still under way at Jabula Beach, which falls within the iSimangaliso Wetland Park.

Earlier this week, the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) St Lucia, police and iSimangaliso Wetland Park rangers conducted an extensive sea and shoreline search for the local male teen who went missing while swimming.

The iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority, in a statement yesterday, conveyed its deepest condolences to the family and friends of the teenage boy.

The park’s spokesperson Bheki Manzini said it has been reported that the boy, who comes from the local community of Khula Village, was swimming when he was swept out to sea and disappeared.

“The crew from National Sea Rescue Institute attended to the incident, but unfortunately the body could not be recovered. The search for the body continues,” said Manzini.

The NSRI website said often rip currents move slowly enough to barely be detected.

“But given the right circumstances of waves and beach profile, they can develop into currents moving at speeds of up to 2 metres per second – faster than any of us can swim,” it said.

Ranging in width from just a few metres to a hundred metres, NSRI said rip currents pull to just behind where the waves form and then lose their power.

A rip current is not the same as a rip tide which is formed as the tide ebbs and flows through a narrow opening such as an estuary, the NSRI noted.

Below is a description of how to spot them and what to do when caught in one.

Rip currents are able to develop where there are breaking waves. Bigger waves produce stronger currents and these “rivers” of current are produced by water moving from the beach back out to sea. They happen all the time at many beaches and are the biggest danger that visitors face in the water.

As with all risks, avoiding rip currents altogether is the safest strategy. To do this swim at a beach where lifeguards are on duty and swim between their flags.

Although an untrained eye may struggle to see rip currents, stronger rip currents give telltale signs. With patience and careful observation it is not hard to see that water in a channel or “river” between breaking waves is moving away from the beach. The current may not flow straight out from the beach. It may flow at an angle or have a bend or two in it before it gets to the backline where waves are forming

This is what you should look out for:

  • Water through a surf zone that is a different colour to the surrounding water
  • A change in the incoming pattern of waves (often the waves are not breaking in a rip channel).
  • Seaweed, sand “clouds” or debris moving out to the backline where waves are forming through the surf zone
  • Turbulent or choppy water in the surf zone in a channel or river-like shape flowing away from the beach

THE MERCURY

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