Three swimmers were swept away by a rogue wave, a violent maritime phenomenon, and 17 others were seriously injured Saturday on a popular South African beach, emergency services said on Sunday.
“There was a rogue wave that swept people out to sea, three drowned and 17 were taken to hospital,” Robert Mckenzie, spokesman for the KwaZulu-Natal provincial emergency services, told AFP.
He said that one of the dead was a child of 7 or 8 years. The injured are “in serious or critical condition”.
The Durban City Council said later that the three dead, including “a teenager”, had been “swept out to sea by currents”, adding that 35 rescue personnel were mobilized in this “mass rescue effort”.
Medical personnel were also attending to the 100 people affected by the incident.
The event occurred at around 17:00 local time (15:00 GMT) at Bay of Plenty, one of the beaches of Durban, the third largest city in South Africa.
Durban has been gradually reopening its beaches after they were closed due to high levels of E.coli from the city’s sewage system, which was severely damaged by floods this year. Those floods killed more than 400 people in April.