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Divers have lucky escape

Divers have lucky escape

Two divers had an extremely lucky escape at the weekend after becoming stuck by tide and bad weather on a rock at the Whakatane Heads.

The two divers, aged 38 and 42, from the Whakatane area, had been diving around Otarawairere Bay and were making their way to Whakatane when the tide and a rising swell trapped them on a rock. One diver had a mobile phone and raised the alarm.

Whakatane Search and Rescue was called and Whakatane Coastguard was sent to the location. Due to the heavy swell they were not able to get close enough to the rock to uplift the divers.

The Bay Trust Rescue helicopter was put on standby in case they were needed to lift the divers using night vision. The weather was marginal with rain and clouds making it extremely difficult conditions to fly.

The Ohope Surf Club IRB manned by Peter and Mathew Craig was called and went to where the Coastguard boat was waiting.

The Craig's nosed their IRB into the rock where the two were trapped and Mathew dived off into the white water to reach the rock then swam the pair, and their gear, back out to the IRB and thus to the rescue boat. There was a heavy swell and the surge around the rock would have been considerable. The tide was coming in and was almost full when they were rescued.

One of the divers collapsed and was taken to hospital by ambulance suffering from advanced hypothermia.

Sgt Denis Foster said: "They had a very lucky escape thanks to combined efforts of various search and rescue services and volunteers. If they hadn't been located and rescued it is likely that at least one or both would have perished overnight waiting for the tide to go out."


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