Four construction workers narrowly escaped drowing after a flash flood swept down the Tugela River in the South African province of Natal on Monday (4 October).
GV PAN FROM: Bridge across Tugela River, Natal, South Africa TO four men in raging river water.
CU and MV: rescue cable lowered towards victims and man hauled aboard. (4 shots)
TV: second man pulled out of river by helicopter.
SV: pilot at controls helicopter returns to base.
LV PAN: crowds around ambulance.
SV: Pilot and victims walking towards ambulance. (3 shots)
CU: rescue victims talking to reporter.
Van Der Merwe: "They were working down the bottom there. When all of a sudden the boys down on the back side there just screamed that the water was coming.
REPORTER: "What were you doing, where were you working?
VAN DER MERWE: "We were jack-hammering holes in the rock.
REPORTER: "In the side of the river?"
VAN DER MERWE: "On the side of the river, yes.
REPORTER: "What time was this?
VAN DER MERWE: "It must have been about 10.
REPORTER: "So how long were you in the water? Its now a quarter past twelve so you were there for two and a quarter hours. How close to the water were you working when the water came up?
VAN DER MERWE: "Quite a distance.
REPORTER: "Was it just a sudden wall of water?
VAN DER MERWE: "Yes, just a wall of water came up.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Four construction workers narrowly escaped drowing after a flash flood swept down the Tugela River in the South African province of Natal on Monday (4 October). The man had been drilling holes in the rock face of the river bank when a six foot (2 metre) wall of water cascaded down river.
SYNOPSIS: Within seconds they were stranded on a rocky island with the murky torrent closing in on them every minute. When people on shore realised what had happened they sounded the alarm and within five minutes a Puma helicopter was sent to rescue them. By the time it arrived on the scene the men were standing waist deep in water and the water level was rising rapidly.
With precision and skill the helicopter crew hauled the stranded flood victims aborad. And just 34 minutes after the distress call had gone out the men were safe on the bank of the Tugela cold and exhausted but unhurt. They were then taken to hospital for observation.
Afterwards Jan van der Merwe, the rigger in charge of the ill-fated crew, described what happened.