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Saturday,September 26,2020 16:37 PM

Rescued tourist flies home

By Vision Reporter

Added 29th August 2003 03:00 AM

It took 100 climbers, three international armies, three aircrafts shuttling between Entebbe and the war-ravaged eastern DR Congo and 24 hours to save the life of South African tourist David Land and his injured Uganda escort.

It took 100 climbers, three international armies, three aircrafts shuttling between Entebbe and the war-ravaged eastern DR Congo and 24 hours to save the life of South African tourist David Land and his injured Uganda escort.

By Matthias Mugisha

It took 100 climbers, three international armies, three aircrafts shuttling between Entebbe and the war-ravaged eastern DR Congo and 24 hours to save the life of South African tourist David Land and his injured Uganda escort.

His five-day ordeal finally ended yesterday at 8:39am when the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and an official from their Uganda embassy handed him over to Europ Assistance air ambulance that flew him to Johannesburg.

Covered in blankets, bald-headed Land, 60, of Cape Town, was wheeled from a white ambulance to a waiting plane. He did not talk.

Land and his two Ugandan escorts, Moses Kithalo and Raphael Kitseghe, were trapped in the cold Rwenzori mountains by an avalanche which hit them on Sunday near Elena camp.

The trio were preparing to climb Margherita, the highest peak, at 16,763ft in Africa’s most challenging ranges.

For four days, all air rescue operations were hampered by bad weather. On Thursday, an Oryx helicopter reached them but failed to fly for hours when clouds suddenly closed in.

“It’s only easy to thank God. You can’t say everything is easy,’’ SANDF chief Col Smiley J. van Zyl, who was coordinating the mission, said.

The SANDF contingent is part of the Congo force based at Entebbe military airbase. He said they were called in to help after the accident.

An air ambulance from Europ Assistance, Land’s insurers, flew from South Africa to Entebbe with a five-man medical team and waited. A South African Oryx helicopter with two Belgian medics made several futile attempts to reach the trapped men.

The Uganda Wildlife Authority and Rwenzori Mountaineering services, a company which runs tourist activities, dispatched over 70 climbers to the ranges.

Kitseghe had a broken leg and had been brought to a lower altitude.

On Thursday, the helicopter reached the injured men at John Mathe camp at 10,600ft but got stuck for four hours due to bad weather.

Rescued tourist flies home

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