Rescuers find second body after tourist boat capsizes off Cape Town

Mon, Oct 15, 2012, 01:00

RESCUE EFFORTS to find the last of 38 people pitched from a boat into a freezing Atlantic ocean near Cape Town on Saturday ended sadly yesterday when divers found a body near the accident site, bringing the death toll to two.

The body of South African John Roberts, a crew member, was found 21m below the surface yesterday morning by navy divers, Cape Town city said in a statement.

The drama began shortly after 2pm the day before when charter boat The Maroshka, capsized at Duiker Island off Hout Bay while taking a group of tourists, both local and international, to a well-known seal watching spot.

It is believed the boat was hit by a rogue wave, which caused it to capsize in waters notoriously frigid and home to numerous species of sharks that normally feed on the local seal colonies.

About a dozen people were initially picked up by two charter boats in the vicinity. When the local National Sea and Rescue Institute (NSRI) team arrived on the scene and pulled others from the water they confirmed a UK national had died.

Three UK women were also initially reported missing, but divers found the first of them using an air pocket to breathe in the hull of the boat, the NSRI said.

“On further investigation, and deeper inside the hull of the upturned boat, our divers came across two females trapped deep inside the hull and who were also using air pockets to breath.

“Both were successfully brought out by the police divers to safety,” the NSRI’s Brad Geyser said, adding that a rescuer gave his own breathing apparatus to one of the ladies to ensure she could get out. He then surfaced without air to breathe.

Mr Geyser said 24 people were hospitalised for medical treatment, with the majority suffering from symptoms of hypothermia.