NSRI PORT ALFRED

All eight paddlers (not 9 paddlers as was originally believed) were found safely together on the Fish River near Port Alfred after being reported overdue. Two men reported missing from the main group were also among those found.

There was no cell phone signal where they were located.

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According to friends and family, they had been dropped off upriver on Friday afternoon to paddle down the river but failed to arrive as expected on Saturday.

On Sunday afternoon at 16h00, the alarm was raised and NSRI Port Alfred and emergency services were alerted.

NSRI Port Alfred, an SA Police Services K-9 Search and Rescue officer, Nature Conservation rangers and Traffic Services officers launched a search for two of the party who had been reported to be missing from the main group.

Fire and Rescue Services, the SA Air Force 15 Squadron (Charlie Flight), EMS and the Mountain Club of South Africa remained on alert.

A farmer had gone to the original location where they had been spotted after a volunteered private fixed-wing aircraft had spotted the group during a search earlier on Sunday afternoon.

The farmer found all eight persons at the location but was unable to communicate with the search party due to the lack of cell phone signal.

According to the group the two missing men had gone in search of a cell phone signal. At 17h00 they had made a call to a friend when the signal was again lost so they retreated to join the main group.

The search party who were searching for these two men backtracked also returned when it was confirmed that all eight persons in the party were safe.

Hippos apparently blocked their progress but did not pose any danger to the group.

A sea rescue craft launched for the search also returned.

All in the group, adults from East London, chose to remain on the river and declined to be escorted by the rescue party.

No further assistance was required.

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