JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa’s coastal city of Durban has closed its North Beach after three people died when they were hit by a large wave, emergency officials said on Sunday.
The Emergency Medical Services “responded to reports of a freak wave that swept a group of beachgoers against the pier causing multiple injuries,” EMS spokesman Njabulo Dlungele said. “Unfortunately three people, including a teenager, were declared deceased at the scene.”
At least 17 people were also taken to various medical facilities for treatment after being injured by the wave, Nlungele said.
More than 35 lifeguards participated in rescue efforts, attending to more than 100 people affected by the massive wave, according to the municipality. An investigation has been launched into the incident, the municipality said.
Durban is usually a hive of activity around the holiday season, attracting local and international tourists to its beaches.
This year’s festive season is expected to attract many travelers eager to return to the beaches after the years when COVID-19 lockdowns and precautions reduced tourism in Durban.
The port city on South Africa’s eastern Indian Ocean coast has been gradually reopening its beaches after some were closed due to high levels of E. coli following devastating floods in parts of the KwaZulu-Natal province earlier this year.