Gratitude to all involved in Hout Bay rescue operation
Statement by Western Cape Minister of Economic Development & Tourism, Alan Winde with contributions from Mariëtte du Toit-Helmbold, Wilfred Solomons-Johannes and Craig Lambinon
At a press conference held in the Cape Town city centre today, Western Cape Minister of Economic Development and Tourism, Alan Winde, expressed his sincere gratitude to those who conducted the rescue operation after the capsizing of the Miroshga Charter boat off the coast of Hout Bay at about 15h00 on Saturday, October 13, 2012.
Minsiter Winde said: “There were 39 people on board. Western Cape Emergency Medical Services transported 24 people to hospital, most had hypothermia and minor injuries. Patients were transported to False Bay, Constantiaberg, Groote Schuur, Victoria, Vincent Palotti and Christian Barnaard Hospitals.
“Following an extensive rescue operation conducted in dangerous conditions, a further three people were rescued from inside the hull and hospitalised with severe hypothermia. Two were discharged and one remains in hospital.
“Regrettably, two people lost their lives – Mr John Roberts, a registered tour guide, and a British national, Mr Peter Hyett. The post-mortem results into the deaths of the two gentlemen reveal that the cause of death was drowning.
“According to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) the boat had a valid legal safety certificate and was certified to carry 42 passengers and three crew. The cause of the accident is still under investigation. The final report on the cause of the accident will be revealed once the boat has been taken out of the water and the investigating officers have inspected the boat. This will take in the region of two weeks.
“The family of the late Mr Peter Hyett have expressed their gratitude for the swift response of our emergency services teams and for the support of Cape Town Tourism, which has been on hand to see their every need since the tragedy occurred. Last night, I also received a telephone call from the United Kingdom Minister for Africa, Honourable Mark Simmonds MP, who expressed his sincere appreciation for the support that had been given to affected British nationals and conveyed his thanks to our response teams for the excellent job they did in handling this disaster.
“Cape Town Tourism assisted with counseling, changes to flight bookings, travel plans and visas and is helping the victims of this tragic event deal with official procedures.
"Since Sunday, both Cape Town Tourism and the Western Cape Tourism Support Services have been:
· Constantly evaluating and updating information
· Verifying lists of passengers on the boat
· Assessing the condition of victims and attending to their possible needs
· Facilitating and recording visits undertaken to hospitals
· Discussing flight arrangements for the [British] deceased and his family
· Assisting with Home Affairs queries
· Assisting with embassy queries
“There were many men and women who dedicated their time and effort to, at first, the search and rescue of victims of this tragedy, and later, to ensuring their well-being and safe onward journey. I would especially like to thank those in attendance today:
From the NSRI:
· Rob Stirrat, chairman of the Sea Rescue Operations Board and director
· Brad Geyser, NSRI Station 8 Hout Bay and commander of the joint operations command
· Mark Hughes, NSRI executive director – operations
· Craig Lambinon, NSRI national communications and media spokesman of the joint operations command
· Lyall Pringle, NSRI Station 8 Hout Bay station commander
· Andrew Ingram, NSRI Station 2 Bakoven duty coxswain
· Pat van Eyssen, NSRI Station 3 Table Bay station commander
· Rudi Fisch, NSRI Station 3 Table Bay duty coxswain
· Ian Klopper Incident Medical Officer
Navy Sea Divers:
· Commander van den Berg
· Petty officer Claassens
· Seaman Grewar
· Seaman Stephenson
· Seaman Sumner
· Elvin Stoffels
· Kogelien Moodley
· Fabian Higgins
“I would also like to thank Dr Cleeve Robertson from the Western Cape Disaster Management Unit, the City of Cape Town’s Disaster Management Unit, Cape Town Tourism and all other organisations, members of the public that helped to turn minimise the impact of this disaster. We are extremely proud of our servicemen and women for the professional manner in which they handled this event. I would also like to commend the visitors involved in this incident for their bravery and sheer will to survive. We are so proud of them for putting their trust in the hands of our emergency staff.
“Tourism provides over 10% to the region’s GDP and creates thousands of jobs for our citizens. We are therefore committed to doing all that we can to ensure that both domestic and international tourists to our region have a safe and pleasant stay. This event proves that in the unlikely event of a disaster, we are also on hand – 24/7 – to provide world-class care to those in need. This event proves that in the Western Cape, we live our motto of doing things 'Better Together'.”
Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariëtte du Toit Helmbold, added: “It was through the combined effort of everybody that so many lives were saved on Saturday afternoon. Cape Town Tourism’s Visitor Safety Programme kicked in immediately, and in close conjunction with rescue personnel and officials from the City of Cape Town and Western Cape Government, we provided practical support to the visitors after the incident. The response of the city’s tourism industry has also been overwhelming, as they stepped in to provide logistical support including hotel rooms and flights. The feedback that we have received from the visitors concerned has been incredibly positive. In tough conditions, people pulled together and this is what being South African is all about. Further information about our Visitor Safety Programme is available here: www.capetown.travel/content/page/visitor-safety”
Acting-Head of the City of Cape Town’s Disaster Management Unit, Wilfred Solomons-Johannes, added: “Emergency teams were dispatched immediately to aid in the land- and sea-side rescue operations. When we learnt that tourists were involved, the tourism bodies and Home Affairs Department were alerted. I would like to thank the Western Cape Department of Health’s Forensic Pathology Unit for conducting the autopsies on the deceased with urgency so that they may be repatriated to their families in as short a time as possible.”
Spokesperson for the National Sea Rescue Institute, Craig Lambinon, said: “Our sincerest condolences have been expressed to the families of the two gentlemen who lost their lives in this incident. Shortly into the start of the operation, a sense of calm descended over the area because everyone knew that an A-Team of rescue personnel was conducting the operation, with others on stand-by waiting to be called if needed. I must also commend the community of Hout Bay for opening their hearts and homes to us when we called for blankets, clothing and other material items for the visitors involved in this incident. While it is sad that lives were lost, the lives that were saved are a credit to the experience and training of all the men and women who aided in this operation. We are very proud of our teams and, indeed, of all the people of the Western Cape who stepped in to assist.”
Phumzile Van Damme
Spokesperson for Minister Alan Winde
082 378 2235