Five people were seriously injured when a wave smashed into a beach restaurant in KwaZulu-Natal and pushed people and furniture as far as the back wall, the KZN Private Ambulance company said on Sunday.
Paramedic Chris Botha said they arrived to a scene of chaos, finding at least 12 people injured, five seriously.
“They had major lacerations,” Botha told We.
One person was swept out but was quickly rescued by a lifesaver as the exceptionally high waves of the spring tide that hammered the Western Cape coastline appeared to have moved to KwaZulu-Natal.
The wave hit in the late afternoon.
“People described it as being pushed all the way to back of the restaurant,” Botha said.
Jason Livingstone, who owns and runs Trailboss Enduro, an off-road motorcycle training school on the South Coast, was enjoying the afternoon at his friend’s restaurant Mariners in Marina Beach, filming the sets of waves coming in.
“It wasn’t one wave, it was a combination of a set of waves – the big swell running and the spring tide,” he told We.
In the video, people are heard marvelling at the enormity of the wave, but it does not stop rolling in, and soon there is panicked screaming as the water continues pouring in.
Livingstone hung on to a beam to avoid being swept away.
A child got washed out and he ran to help, but the heroic lifeguard got there first and saved the child.
A freak wave hit Mariners Restaurant in KZN.
“Everyone stayed very calm and helped everyone out of the establishment. Injuries were minor, and mostly people were in shock and bewildered from the surprise.
“We then pulled about 10 old people out of the restaurant.”
Livingstone said once the initial shock had passed, everybody started helping those around them.
Reports on social media showed a Cattle Baron devastated near Storms River, and a beach restaurant in Jeffreys Bay also hammered.
The powerful spring tide waves wreaked havoc along the Western Cape coastline on Saturday.
Ninety-three-year-old Jo Hartman died after being dragged by a wave at Leentjiesklip in Wilderness, while her daughter and a friend were injured.
By Sunday afternoon, the high tide in George and the Garden Route was mercifully calmer, said the George Municipality.
George Mayor Leon van Wyk extended his condolences to Hartman’s family.
“My condolences to the family who lost a loved one. My thoughts also go out to everyone along the coast who was affected by the storm surge.
“We appreciate the cooperation of the public during the very difficult weekend,” he said.
The National Sea Rescue Institute urged continued caution around seafronts.