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One Dead, Nine Rescued In Hectic Afternoon For Surf Lifeguards At Kariaotahi And Sunset Beaches

A person has died at Kariaotahi Beach on Auckland’s south-western coast this afternoon after getting swept out in a rip.

Surf Life Saving’s Operations Centre SurfCom was notified around 4:45pm of two people in trouble in the water.

The Kariaotahi Search and Rescue squad were immediately tasked and responded with two IRBs. St John, Police, Westpac and the Police Eagle Helicopters also responded.

One patient was located safely. The other was spotted unconscious in the water by lifeguards and was returned to shore, where CPR was performed but was unsuccessful.

Just as this incident was wrapping up, SurfCom was alerted to seven people in trouble in a rip at nearby Sunset Beach, Port Waikato.

The Sunset Search and Rescue Squad were tasked to respond while the lifeguards at Kariaotahi were also sent to assist.

All seven people were returned safely to shore by the lifeguards; two required first-aid for minor hypothermia and exhaustion but all left the beach in a stable condition.

At 1814, SurfCom was then alerted to another person in trouble at Kariaotahi beach. A rescue was performed by lifeguards and they were returned safely to shore.

The three incidents continue a hectic week for surf lifeguards in Northland, Auckland and Waikato. 53 people were rescued over the weekend at beaches in these regions.

The death is the third fatality on the Northern West Coast in the past week. On Tuesday 16 November, a person was recovered unconscious from the water by lifeguards at Bethells Beach in Auckland. CPR was performed but the person could not be revived. On Sunday 21 November, lifeguards at Baylys Beach in Northland were alerted to an unconscious patient in the water by a member of the public. The lifeguards assisted emergency services but had minimal involvement. Another person was able to be revived by lifeguards performing CPR at Karekare Beach on Sunday, after being recovered unconscious from the water. They were airlifted to hospital by Westpac in a critical condition.

Northern Region Search and Rescue supervisor John-Michael Swannix says the Surf Life Saving community send their condolences to the family and friends of the person who died at Kariaotahi today.

“This is such a tragedy. No one goes to the beach for a swim and expects something like this to happen. The conditions on the West Coast are deceptively dangerous at the moment. We would really urge people to swim at other locations.”

Swannix says the rise in serious incidents is down to sunny weather, decent swells, warm water temperatures and outgoing tides.

“It is always more dangerous to swim when the tide is going out. All of the incidents we’ve had over the past week have been on an outgoing tide. As the tide drops it makes the rip currents stronger and the holes and troughs in the sea floor more prominent, sucking people off their feet and into deep water.”

He urged people to remember the three Rs for if they get stuck in a rip.

“You need to relax and float on your back, raise your hand to signal for help and ride the rip, don’t exhaust yourself fighting the current.”

“If you see someone in trouble, call 111 and ask for Police. They have a direct line to activate our Search and Rescue squads which are available 24/7 to come and assist.”

© Scoop Media

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