Surf-skier missing near East London

A surf-skier is missing after he failed to return to shore in the Peter Marlin surf-ski challenge from Orient Beach to Yellowsands, East London, today 15 November 2014.

The 43 year-old missing paddler is from Johannesburg and despite six winged aircraft searching for him he has still not been found.

According to the NSRI release 133 surf-skiers were reported to have started the challenge, 100 finished with the remaining either retired or forced to withdraw in the bad weather conditions – with wind speeds increasing to 47 knots and 6.5 meter swells soon after the 7 am start, increasing further to 60 knots during this afternoon.

During the morning a number of surf-skiers were reported missing or overdue at the surf-ski challenge finish line at around 10 am. NSRI East London sea rescue craft Lotto Rescuer and an EC Government Health EMS rescue helicopter, performed a search and found five of the paddlers safe on the beach, having withdrawn from the challenge. None of them were injured.

A  fixed wing aircraft joined NSRI sea rescue craft and the EMS rescue helicopter in the search but could not find the missing paddler. Then after an extensive search six fixed wing aircraft from the local flying club joined in and have been performing another extensive search .

The search was carried out from where the man was last estimated to have been on the surf-ski challenge course towards the direction of the Kei River Mouth, Transkei. The gale force winds in the afternoon and during the search increased to 60 knot gale force winds and sea swells of up to 6.5 meters.

Police Disaster Management, a Police Dive Unit, MRCC (Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre) and Telkom Maritime Radio Services, have been broadcasting an all ships alert for ships and vessels in the area to be on alert and have all joined in the search effort which is ongoing.

Family of the missing man are being supported and kept informed by Sea Rescue and by the SAP. The police have opened an investigation into the incident. 

(edited)

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