The R72 Kariega Bridge at Kenton-on-Sea. Picture: Facebook

Kenton-on-Sea - Police divers have recovered the bodies of a woman and a little girl from the wreck of a car which veered off a bridge and plunged into a river at Kenton-on-Sea in the Eastern Cape on Sunday afternoon, bringing the death toll to three, the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) said.   

NSRI Port Alfred duty crew were activated at 1.10pm to assist police and emergency services at a road accident at the R72 Kariega Bridge at Kenton-on-Sea, NSRI Port Alfred deputy station commander Stephen Slade said earlier on Sunday.

The South African Police Service, Ndlambe traffic and fire and rescue services, Eastern Cape government health emergency medical services (EMS) and others were on the scene where a vehicle had reportedly careened off the road into the river, he said. 

Police, suspecting people from the vehicle may be trapped in the submerged vehicle in the river or may be missing in the river, requested NSRI assistance. NSRI rescue swimmers went to the scene, and the NSRI rescue vehicle towed the sea rescue craft Rescue 11 Alpha which was then launched onto the river to help in the search for suspected missing people, "including a baby, although reports of persons still missing could not be confirmed while police investigations continued", Slade said at the time.

A police dive unit co-ordinated NSRI rescue swimmers conducting an initial free dive search, but no sign of missing persons were found. Police divers then conducted a scuba dive search on the wreck and in the river in their ongoing search efforts.

A 10-year-old girl was confirmed dead and a female toddler, a female teenager, two adult females, and an adult male were transported to hospitals in the area by EMS and a private ambulance service. 

"It appears that occupants of the vehicle escaped from the submerged vehicle after the vehicle entered the water," Slade said.

African News Agency/ANA