Rescue teams at the site where a 16-year-old boy drowned trying to cross a river in KZN. Picture: SAPS
Rescue teams at the site where a 16-year-old boy drowned trying to cross a river in KZN. Picture: SAPS

Teen drowns while trying to cross raging KZN river

By IOL Reporter Time of article published Feb 15, 2021

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DURBAN - A 16-year-old drowned after being swept away while crossing the Mkhuze River near Pongola in KwaZulu-Natal yesterday.

Police spokesperson, Colonel Thembeka Mbele, said the teen's body was pulled from the water earlier today, some 11 kilometres from where he is believed to have drowned.

She said residents searched the area following the boy's disappearance.

"Members had experienced difficulty in retrieving the deceased across the wide and fast flowing river.

A rope rescue system was set up and members had  to swim across the fast flowing river to secure an inflatable raft in order to haul the deceased across the river utilising specialised rope rescue systems," Mbele said.

Rescue officials at the scene. Picture: SAPS

She said after a two hour operation, rescue teams were able to haul out the teen's body.

Mbele added that the youngster's body was handed over to SAPS and an inquest had been opened.

There have been a spate of drownings across the province last week.

The National Sea Rescue Institute hve warned the public to exercise caution when swimming or walking near water.

According to Statistics South Africa, fatal drowning is the 5th leading cause of unintentional death in the country with an estimated 600 children who die by drowning in each year.

The NSRI said many of these fatal drownings could be prevented if there was a responsible, able-bodied person watching the children when they are in or near water, and if they were able to recognise the signs of drowning.

Andrew Ingram, Head of Drowning Prevention at NSRI, said when people are drowning, all of their energy is going into trying to breathe and staying above water.

"They are not yelling for help or waving their hands around. Drowning is often quick, and very silent," he said.

He said parents and care-givers are urged to be vigilant when their children are near water. Most drownings of children under five years of age are at, or near, their home.

Ingram said special attention should be paid to washing basins, baths, dams, rivers and swimming pools. Small children should not be able to get close to these dangers alone without responsible adult supervision. Older children should also be reminded of the dangers that they face near water.

"The priority is to have somebody dedicated to physically watch those who are swimming, not distracted by their phone or conversations with others. Taking your eyes off children, even for a few seconds, could prove fatal," Ingram said.


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