A formal inquest has been launched into a horrific accident on Table Mountain which claimed the lives of a tourist and her guide on New Year’s Day.
This, after a hectic rescue to save a survivor and retrieve two bodies off the mountain, taking several hours.
According to Wilderness Search and Rescue (WSAR) the two female tourists – whose nationalities were not divulged – had embarked on a hike up the mountain on Monday afternoon.
“As far as we know, a local male person who acted as a guide took two female tourists who are not from South Africa up the mountain,” WSAR’s Johann Marais said.
“At the time, one or more of them lost their footing and they were anchored with ropes up the mountain but they fell.” The approximate length of the ropes they were attached to at that point was around 250 metres, said Marais.
“They fell until they reached the end of their ropes. In that process the guide and one of the females sustained injuries which proved to be fatal. The third person, a female, survived.”
According to onlookers, she was able to reach one of the hikers and began administering CPR but to no avail. The rescue mission began shortly afterwards.
“By the time our technical rescuers and paramedics reached them, both had died. This was about 9pm,” said Marais. He added that WSAR made use of the Table Mountain Cable Car which was stopped immediately above the position they were hanging from.
“Our rescuers abseiled from the cable car down to the stricken people. We then extracted the injured female and then the rope rigging was taken down. The cable car then went up with her. While we were using the cable car, the entire system was out of operation.”
This resulted in people being trapped on top of the mountain until 2am yesterday.
“Once the injured woman was rescued, the trapped people were then transported off the mountain. Our team then went up in the cable car again to take the bodies out one by one,” said Marais.
“At about 5.15am the last member of the team clambered back into the cable car, and they dismantled the rigging. They were then eventually able to come down.”
The woman was taken to hospital and is in a stable condition. Marais was unable to relay the nature of the injuries sustained by the deceased and the survivor. He further advised hikers to prepare themselves adequately before embarking on the stretch.
“For each and every one who goes up the mountain, very importantly stay on the foot path. Do not veer off it. And please do not do it alone. Go well prepared and have enoughwater with you. See to it that cellphones are with you, with fully charged batteries in the case of emergencies.”
Those involved in the accident were on a route up the mountain that is immediately below the upper cable station, Marais added.
“The evidence shows they were making use of ropes at that time.”