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01 November 2011

NSRI: 4 people reported to be adrift at sea

STILL BAY NEWS - At 12:06 this afternoon NSRI Still Bay was activated by the Transnet National Ports Authority to search for a life-raft believed to be adrift at sea between Still Bay and Witsand with 4 fishermen, believed to be Sri Lankans, onboard.

The NSRI Still Bay volunteer duty sea rescue crew launched the NSRI Still Bay sea rescue craft SPIRIT OF ST FRANCIS to respond to approximately 18 nautical miles off-shore of Still Bay (between Still Bay and Witsand) on a search and rescue operation to search for the 4 people.

NSRI Witsand have been placed on high alert.

It appears that the life-raft and the 4 fishermen may have been adrift at sea since as early as Saturday after their boat apparently caught fire, but details are not yet clear and the fate of their fishing trawler, the 57.5 foot Sri-Lankan registered DESHAN LANKA, is not known.

According to reports the 4 fishermen are not injured, but their exact whereabouts, although suspected to be in the vicinity of coordinates provided to Maritime authorities, is still to be determined.

Maritime Radio Services are assisting the NSRI with marine communications.

Metro EMS have been alerted to be on stand-by.

It has emerged that SAMSA (The South African Maritime Safety Authority) detained the fishing trawler in East London a month ago after a routine inspection found the vessel to be carrying no Marine VHF Radio and no safety equipment – no life-jackets, no red distress flares and no life–raft and the vessel was only released (to return to sea) once these requirements had been met (by the owners) to the satisfaction of SAMSA authorities.

It is believed that the vessel was heavily laden with fuel reportedly for a voyage to Sierra Leone.

- Mossel Bay Advertiser