Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happened Off Cape St. Francis

A depressing news from this morning:

HOPES of finding 12 crew members missing from the wrecked chokka boat, The Kingfisher, off Cape St Francis are fading after the search for them was put on hold last night. It will resume at dawn today.

The Kingfisher capsized and sank in heavy seas and howling gale force winds on Monday night.

Port St Francis NSRI station commander Bob Meikle confirmed that, aside from five men rescued late on Monday evening, only two bodies have been recovered since the search began at 4am yesterday .

The 12 crew members are now presumed to have drowned, after the search led to 19 empty life-jackets being recovered from the sea.
Here are the story of the survivors according to the Herald:

The four survivors – who are all temporary workers from Zimbabwe – said the boat had been hit broadside by “monster waves”, causing Kingfisher to capsize, dumping them into the freezing sea.

With nothing but a light shining from a rocky mountain top in the distance to guide them, they described how they battled through the icy darkness, heavy swells and strong winds, swimming nearly two kilometres towards land ... and survival.

Ganga said he had feared for his life as he struggled through the pitch darkness. He washed up on the shore of Gibson Bay, near Cape St Francis, at about 9pm on Monday, three hours after the boat capsized.

Once on shore, a panting and barefoot Ganga, clad in a T-shirt and pants, said he knocked on the door of a nearby house, where a woman called an ambulance.

Ganga said the boat sank at about 6pm and “our captain left with the rescue raft, leaving us behind with only life-jackets, which many of us couldn‘t put on quickly enough because we had already jumped off the sinking boat”.

One of the three men who swam after Ganga, Muduva, was the only one who had been quick enough to put on his life-jacket. “We were almost waist-deep in the water – although a long distance behind Ganga – when we were rescued by the sea rescue helicopters,” said Muduva.

Nyamutenha said: “The water was so freezing, I feared for my life just from the cold.”

He said he had been unable to put on his life- jacket, but had managed to grab hold of it before it was ripped from his hands by the waves.

“While I was swimming to shore, I panicked for a moment but calmed myself because I felt I was well-equipped with survival skills learnt at a one-week training course a month ago to prevent myself from drowning.”

The four said they feared for the lives of their fellow crewmen, the majority of whom were from Zimbabwe and five South Africans, saying they did not know if they could have survived the rough seas. The temporary workers allegedly filled in for the regular crew, who have been on strike for months over an ongoing pay dispute.

Oh well, it's all broadsided by "monster waves" -- unpredictable, unexpected, just happened! The survivors were guided by "a light shining from a rocky mountain top in the distance"! What a guiding light. Where else do we find solace in cases like this one? It seems God's help is always there, we just have to be on alert to realize it. May the ones who did not survive be rest in peace and may God bless their families during these especially difficult times.

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