The Namibian (Windhoek)

30 July 2012

Namibia: Tragedy Hits Namibian Coast

WHAT was supposed to be a routine daily fishing trip by 47-year-old Danie Kloppers turned into a nightmare on Thursday afternoon when a ski-boat with him and six employees on board capsized north of Mile 4.

One of the crew members, David Alweendo (34), who was wearing a life jacket, succeeded in swimming to the shore, but the six others drowned. There were apparently two other life jackets on the boat, but due to the capsizing of the boat the crew members could not get to them.

By late yesterday afternoon only three bodies had washed out on the beach, with search groups still patrolling the area towards Henties Bay.

Apparently the boat, the Dan-Jose, went out on Thursday morning to catch fish to be sold to the public at Swakopmund.

"They were on their way back to Swakopmund when water leaked into the boat and with the strong wind over the sea it capsized," the Erongo regional crime investigating coordinator, Inspector George Xoagub, told The Namibian.

The emergency services of Swakopmund, such as the Fire Department, St Gabriel's Ambulance, International SOS, Swakopmund Municipal Traffic Department and the police, as well as some residents of the town, immediately responded to the accident.

The bodies of Kloppers and 33-year-old Stephen Haukongo washed out on Thursday evening. The body of 25-year-old Shavuka Andreas washed ashore near Mile 14 yesterday afternoon.

The boat washed out on Friday morning, while some boots of the crew members were also found.

According to Aubrey Goosen of the West Coast Safety Initiative in Swakopmund, it takes 21 minutes for a person to be overcome by hypothermia in the cold Benguela current.

"You literally freeze to death in the cold water," he said.

According to Xoagub this was the first fatal boat accident at Swakopmund in many years.

The search-and-rescue mission has been called off and the emergency services are now concentrating on recovering the remaining bodies.

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