EAST LONDON - Two teenage school pupils drowned at an East London beach after apparently being caught in rip currents on Saturday evening despite being warned not to enter the water, the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) said.
NSRI East London duty crew were activated at 8.15pm following reports of a drowning in progress at Eastern Beach, East London, NSRI East London station commander Geoff McGregor said on Sunday.
NSRI rescue swimmers, the South African Police Service with a police K9 search and rescue unit and a police dive unit, and the Eastern Cape government health EMS also responded, he said.
"On arrival on the scene we found a large group of school learners, over 200 children and at least 19 teachers and carers from a boys school and from a girls school in the Eastern Cape on the scene.
"Two teenagers from the group, a male and a female, had already been recovered from the water and CPR [cardiopulmonary resuscitation] efforts were commenced by paramedics, but sadly, despite extensive CPR efforts performed by paramedics, both were declared deceased," McGregor said.
A search continued in an effort to rule out any more pupils missing in the water, but it later appeared that all were accounted for. The pupils had reportedly arrived at the beach following a sports day of rugby, soccer, and netball.
"Teachers and carers had, according to eye-witness accounts, attempted to keep the learners from entering the water, but some learners had gone into the surf before it is suspected that they were caught in rip currents.
"Assisted by teachers, carers, and other learners it appears that multiple children (teenagers) were rescued and assisted out of the surf, but two teenage learners, the male and the female, sadly succumbed to fatal drowning after CPR efforts by paramedics were exhausted. Police have opened an inquest docket and the bodies of the teenagers have been taken into the care of the forensic pathology services," McGregor said.
Meanwhile, beaches in East London had been closed earlier in the day from about 11am by the Buffalo City metropolitan recreation authorities following a shark incident at Nahoon Beach during a junior surfing event, he said.
A male surfer had reportedly been transported to hospital by private transport after being bumped off a surfboard in the surf and bitten by a shark; reportedly bitten on the side of his body, but reportedly only sustaining minor injuries, McGregor said.
African News Agency/ANA