Lesotho News

Chaos in the snow as winter storms hit the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho

July 29, 2012

ER24 assist stranded travellers in LesothoAt approximately 10am on July 15, ER24 received numerous distress calls from beyond the borders of South Africa. The ER24 Emergency Contact Centre received emergency calls from people trapped on the Butha Buthe pass on route to Afri-Ski and the Oxborn Lodge.

The ER24 Bethlehem station is familiar with the pass and its dangers. A strategic plan and decision was followed to assist the people stranded. Shortly after 11:00 paramedics arrived at the scene, where they found almost 30 vehicles either stuck, or involved in collisions after they had skidded on the icy road surface.

ER24 assist stranded travellers in Lesotho-2Paramedics from ER24 assessed the incident that stretched over 1,5km. Multiple people were found with slight hypothermia and dehydration. One of the patients was a diabetic and needed urgent assistance as his medication was running out. Another was treated for asthma on the scene. A heavily pregnant woman and a child with croup were also assessed.

Paramedics were assisted by members from the 4×4 Club to access some of the difficult areas. ER24 would like to thank Christo Davids (4×4 Club and local mine) and Kobus Vd Berg (4×4 Club Kimberley) for gathering their club’s food and water and then handing it out to the people that were stranded on the pass.

ER24 assist stranded travellers in Lesotho-3All of the people were assisted and transported by an ER24 shuttle ambulance to a temporary clinic erected in Fouriesburg. They were later transferred, once medically cleared, to guesthouses in the area. A total of 41 people were assessed and treated by emergency staff.

A team effort between private emergency services and the local community made it possible to assist everyone on the pass.

Near Maseru an expedition to find some snow turned into a nightmare for four friends, when they were stranded in the wild winter weather for 20 hours.


Couple stranded in Lesotho snow-4

Shani Coetzee stranded in thick snow in Lesotho. Picture: Raymond Shepherd

The Star reported that Raymond Shepherd, his girlfriend Shani Coetzee and friends Jan Thuynsma and Anli Moller were among many others stranded in the mountains over the weekend.

The two couples took their Toyota 4x4s on Saturday and drove in tandem towards Lesotho but became stranded about 17km from the Kao Diamond Mine.

The four got into one car and kept the engine running to keep warm. After eight hours of waiting in the car, the car thermometer showed it was -10°C and the engine failed when the diesel inside froze.

They were found by mineworkers early on Sunday morning and soon afterwards the roads were cleared so they could go home.

“I think we’ve all had our fill of snow after this weekend,” said Shepherd.


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