Picture: NSRI
Cape Town - Close to 70 crew and passengers aboard the Robben Island ferry, Thandi, were rescued on Friday afternoon after the vessel took on water, the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) said.

In a statement, the NSRI spokesman Craig Lambinon said they were activated by the Transnet National Ports Authority following a Mayday distress call from the ferry.

Several craft from the NSRI stationed at Table Bay, Hout Bay, Bakoven and Melkbosstrand launched rescue craft. Police and the City of Cape Town emergency services, an airforce helicopter and a rescue chopper were on alert but did not need to respond.

"There were reported to be 68 passengers in total which included the four crew of the ferry," Lambinon said.

"On arrival on the scene the ferry was found to be listing to one side from water intake from unknown causes and some of the passengers were found to be in life rafts and the remaining crew and passengers were on the deck of the casualty ferry."

Passengers were transferred from the Thandi to another Robben Island ferry. 

"All passengers and crew of the casualty ferry were transferred by NSRI from the casualty ferry and from life rafts onto the Madiba 1 and onto NSRI's Spirit of Vodacom and brought to the Port of Table Bay where they were assessed by paramedics and only a few passengers were treated for mild hypothermia."

Two passengers were transported to hospital - one aboard the Thandi was suffering from back pain while another woman aboard the Madiba 1 was suffering from anxiety.

* Based on early, unconfirmed reports from the scene, IOL previously reported that 69 people were rescued.

African News Agency