JOHANNESBURG – Six players from a South African rugby club are feared dead after being swept out to sea during a post-practice ocean swim, officials said on Monday.
One player from the Motherwell Rugby Football Club has already been declared dead in the weekend incident in the south-eastern coastal city of Port Elizabeth and the other five are classified as missing.
“The five are definitely presumed to be dead by now,” Gordon Smart of the Coastal Water Rescue Squad told Reuters on Monday.
Authorities dispatched helicopters and boats to search for the missing players, who were preparing for an Easter tournament. They were thought to have been swept out to sea by a rip current.
“To have their afternoon turned into a day of tragedy is shocking for the whole rugby community and our thoughts and prayers go out to their families,” the president of the South African Rugby Union, Oregan Hoskins, said in a statement.