Photo by Peter McIntosh
Seven schoolchildren were taken to hospital suffering
from water inhalation and hypothermia after 18 pupils were
caught in a rip at a Dunedin beach this afternoon.
About 80 pupils, believed to be from Dunedin's Columba
College, were swimming at Purakaunui beach, north of Dunedin,
when they got into trouble.
"A number went for a swim and were caught in a rip about 2pm.
With the assistance of three surfers in the area, they were
rescued,'' said Acting Senior Sergeant Paul McLaughlan of
In total, 18 pupils were rescued from the water, with St John
confirming that 12 needed treatment.
Seven were taken to Dunedin Hospital's emergency department.
Police said two male surfers helped rescue a 13-year old who
may have died without their intervention.
She was reported to be in a "very serious condition'' and was
flown to hospital, with three others in serious condition, in
the Otago Regional Rescue Helicopter.
Three other teenagers were taken by ambulance with moderate
The pupils were near Purakaunui Inlet and Goat Island, Mr
He said three inflatable rescue boats from Warrington were
used in the rescue, which also involved police officers and
volunteer firefighters from Waitati.
Coastguard Dunedin was also alerted.
Mr McLaughlan said all pupils on the school trip had been
accounted for and Victim Support staff were counselling those
- Additional reporting by APNZ