SA Air Force 15 Squadron Charlie Flight BK-117 helicopter searching for missing crew members of a chokka boat that capsized with 16-fishermen on board.
CAPE ST FRANCIS – Despite an extensive sea, air, and shoreline search no sign was found of eight fishermen still missing after a chokka fishing boat, the Maredon, capsized at sea off Cape St Francis in the Eastern Cape in the early hours of Sunday morning, the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) said.
One person died and several others were injured.
Distress flares were fired from the boat at around 3AM, and other fishing boats nearby confirmed the vessel had capsized.
Seven crew members have been recovered so far and six of them were hospitalised and are in a stable condition.
An investigation was launched.
The NSRI said a search and recovery operation will continue.
NSRI St Francis Bay duty crew were activated by the Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) at about 03.30 following reports of red distress flares by chokka fishing vessels at sea offshore of Thyspoint. The vessel Silver Eagle had spotted the red distress flares at around and raised the alarm, calling Telkom Maritime Radio Services and MRCC.
An emergency position-indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) was then also intercepted by MRCC and additional flare sightings were reported. The Silver Eagle and another chokka fishing boat, the Megalodon, diverted to investigate and the Maredon was then confirmed to have capsized.
“It appears that Silver Eagle came upon a life-raft and reported that the life-raft had drifted too close in towards the rocks and could not be reached. Megalodon reported to have recovered one survivor from the water,” Lambinon said.
NSRI St Francis Bay launched the sea rescue craft Spirit of St Francis II into rough sea conditions with six-metre swells and a gusting to 50 knots westerly wind and rain. A search commenced for survivors of the Maredon, which had been confirmed to have had 16 crew on board.
The Maredon was found capsized and hard aground at Sunset Rocks but surf conditions did not allow rescuers to get close to the stricken vessel during the high tide.
“As high tide approached, waves caused the stricken vessel to roll over a few times and one survivor was witnessed climbing out of the vessel and NSRI rescue swimmers waded into the water and rescued the survivor who has been airlifted to hospital by the SAAF 15 Squadron Charlie flight helicopter in a stable condition," said Lambinon.