1 dead, 5 missing and 15 rescued in strong rip currents in PE

One person died from drowning, five people are missing and at least 15 were rescued at Bluewater Bay Beach, Port Elizabeth, this afternoon after 21 people were washed put to sea in extremely strong rip currents.
The deceased young man and the missing men were all members of the Motherwell Rugby Club.
Some of the 15 members rescued by the NSRI and lifeguards were also members of the same rugby club.
An extensive search, by crew on the sea rescue craft, the municipal offices’ rescue rubber-duck and rescue jet-ski, a Bluewater Bay LSC rescue rubber-duck, the EMS helicopter, plus free swimming by Blue Water Bay LSC lifeguards  has revealed no sign of missing men, all aged in their early 20s.

NSRI Port Elizabeth's sea rescue vessel, Boardwalk Rescuer. Photo: NSRI

Seven of the lifeguards, five of whom were on the beach at the time of the incident plus another two who ran to the scene from their duty post further along the beach, swam after the 21 people swept out to sea by rip-currents. Some of the lifeguards rescued up to three people at a time.
Ian Gray NSRI Port Elizabeth station commander, said 12.10 pm today (Sunday, 25h March) the volunteer sea rescue duty crew were activated following reports from EC Government Health, EMS, of a multiple drowning incident in progress between Swartkops River and Coega harbour.
The crew launched three of the station’s sea rescue craft and started the rescue vehicle. Blue Water Bay lifeguards, Coastal Rescue, WC Government Health, EMS, an EMS helicopter, Nelson Mandela Bay Municipal Beach Managers Office and the SAP also responded.
“On arrival on-scene it was estimated that at least 21 people had been swept out to sea by rip-currents. One person, recovered from the surf by Bluewater Bay LSC lifeguards, was declared dead, five persons remain missing and are presumed to have drowned.
Fernando Cain, of Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Beach Managers office, said that of at least 15 people people rescued a few were youngsters not associated to the rugby club.
Of those rescued none were required to go to hospital though some were treated for shock and near drowning symptoms on the beach by paramedics.
The deceased’s body has been handed into the care of the Forensic Pathology Services. Police have opened an inquest docket.
Lifeguards and police are continuing with an ongoing search for the five missing men and a Police Dive Unit will continue the search tomorrow with a Police K-9 dog unit.
The beach was closed to swimming at 2 pm by the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Beach Managers Office. Strong rip currents prevail at the beach.

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