Seven hikers rescued during joint operation.

SEVEN hikers, six of them children, have been taken to Cuyler Hospital in Uitenhage after a massive joint rescue operation at the Groendal Nature Reserve on Sunday (05/04/15).

At 6:34pm Nelson Mandela Bay EMS operations manager Ashwell Botha confirmed to The Herald that an adult and six children aged between 12 and 17 years had been rescued. “They were on a hiking trail when the rain came down and the area became very water logged very quickly. Naturally, this cut off routes to exit the reserve. The entire area became completely inaccessible by foot and vehicle due to flooding. Luckily, during most of the operation, the reserve rangers knew where the group was which made it easier,” he added. “The SA air force helicopter was also brought in to assist before night fall. The group was then spotted by the helicopter and airlifted to land where ambulances and rescue personnel were waiting.”

Botha said that rescue efforts had originally been launched in the morning however due to constant rainfall more rescue personnel were called to assist.

Some of the role-players who assisted in the rescue including the Mountain Club, Coastal Water Rescue, Police Search and Rescue Unit and the air force. “We are glad to have everyone back safe and sound. I am also very happy to say that no one sustained injuries or was in need of medical treatment. Obviously everyone was just very cold and wet,” Botha added.

Coastal Water Rescue operations coordinator Wayne de Lange said that rescue swimmers had also been sent across the river while the helicopter was in the air as a precautionary measure. “A safety rope connecting both river banks was also setup as a backup in case it was needed,” he added.

All seven were airlifted across the river and taken to Cuyler Hospital in Uitenhage by ambulance.

– Gareth Wilson/The Herald

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