SAAF assists in rescue of six flood victims


The South African Air Force (SAAF) used an Oryx helicopter to assist in the rescue of six people who had been trapped due to flooding close to their property, in Loch Vaal, Vanderbijlpark, along the Vaal river.

Heavy overnight rains caused the people to become trapped by rising water, and they contacted the South African Police Service (SAPS) for help on the morning of 16 January, the South African National Defence Force said.

Upon arrival at the scene, the SAPS found six people, including an 80-year-old gentleman and a 72-year-old woman with limited mobility. SAPS divers were able to assist four members and eight dogs to safety by helping them swim. For the elderly, however, help was sought from 17 Squadron members, who were called out from Air Force Base Swartkop in Tshwane.

According to Jake Manten, National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) Vaal Dam station commander, “We launched our Discovery Rescue Runner, accompanied by Police divers, to attempt to rescue the couple from the house but submerged and semi submerged long farmland grass hampered efforts to reach them and the couple were unable to wade through the barely accessible flooded terrain.”

The SA Air Force was then requested to assist and a SAAF Oryx helicopter airlifted the couple to safety.

They were medically assessed by paramedics and loaded into an ambulance and apparently transported to hospital as a precaution for treatment for shock.

Apart from the SAAF, SAPS and NSRI, ER24 ambulance services, Netcare 911 ambulance services and Private Community Medical Services were also on the scene.

“NSRI are appealing to communities along the Vaal rivers and dams to be vigilant for flash floods during the heavy rainfalls being experienced as water levels continue to rise from heavy rainfall in the area,” the Institute said.