School trip ends in tragedy after two feared drowned at Port St Johns
A search operation is under way for two pupils feared drowned at Port St Johns beach during a school trip on Tuesday, the Eastern Cape education department said on Wednesday.
Spokesperson Mali Mtima said three other pupils were rescued and hospitalised at Mthatha Hospital.
"The tragedy of the drowning happened while they were on a school outing [on Tuesday] to Second Beach in Port St Johns," said Mtima.
The pupils are from the Grade 7 class at Marubeni primary school.
Police spokesperson captain Nozuko Handile confirmed the incident, saying police divers have yet to find a sign of the two missing children.
“Unfortunately the bodies of the two children have not been found yet, however divers and emergency services are already on the scene to continue with the operation,” said Handile.
“The team is experiencing problems at the moment, the sea is rough and divers can’t go in as it is unsafe, they will probably be able to get in around 12 o'clock,” she told TimesLIVE.
Mtima said the district director and some officials visited the homes of the missing pupils. “Both the families are distraught; the news came as a shock to them.
“Imagine sending your child on a school trip and they do not return, but instead officials arrive at your doorstep with their bags full of clothes, books and shoes,” he said.
Mtima said breaking the news to the families that divers feared the children had drowned was heartbreaking.
He said a delegation from the education department would be sent to the school to conduct a full investigation into the incident.
"Information at this stage is extremely sketchy. After the investigation has been concluded, the department will be in a better position to provide more information," added Mtima.
The department's superintendent general, Themba Kojana, and MEC Mlungisi Mvoko said they were saddened by the incident and sent condolences to the families of the pupils who were feared to have died.