DESPITE a major search operation and shipping alert, rescuers have found no trace of a surf-ski paddler reported missing off Port Elizabeth, the National Sea Rescue Institute said yesterday.
NSRI Port Elizabeth station commander Ian Gray said the NSRI initiated a search in the area of Pollock Beach on Wednesday afternoon after a witness report of a paddler in apparent difficulty 300m off shore.
The search was suspended the team found no sign of anyone in trouble. No abandoned vehicles were found at the normal surf ski launch sites, and no one was reported missing.
But at 1.15am police were told by the wife of a 37-year-old man that he had failed to return home and was believed to be missing at sea.
The man had gone paddling shortly after noon on Wednesday and had been due to go on to a meeting in the early evening.
When he failed to return home that night the wife and a friend went to look for him and found his vehicle parked near the McArthur swimming pool.
The NSRI was alerted within minutes of the police being told of the situation, and two NSRI rescue craft were launched.
"With the assistance of NSRI mobile units and the SA Police Services a 50km stretch of coast has been searched up to eight nautical miles off-shore," Gray said. "No sign of the missing man has been found."
Aerial support had been requested, and an extensive and intensive search was continuing.
Maritime Radio Services had issued an all ships alert and local vessels at anchor in the area have been asked to be on the lookout for the paddler.
At the request of his wife, his name was not being released. - Sapa