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Local company shuts down tours to South Africa after two Singaporeans die in river rafting accident

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The rafting commenced at 1:21pm but between 1:59pm and 2:06pm, two kayaks capsized, and two others got stuck, resulting in eight participants ending up in the water.

SINGAPORE: Local media and travel agency The Travel Intern has suspended all tours to South Africa after two Singaporeans who were part of one of their expeditions died after falling into a river during a white water rafting tour.

The tragedy occurred during one of The Travel Intern’s 9-day South Africa Safari tours, which includes a white water rafting activity that is considered suitable for beginners and first-timers throughout the year.

On 18 June, a group of 20 Singaporeans led by The Travel Intern staff arrived at the Lion Safari Park in South Africa where they received a 15-minute safety briefing and were issued life vests and helmets.

The rafting commenced at 1:21pm but between 1:59pm and 2:06pm, two kayaks capsized, and two others got stuck, resulting in eight participants ending up in the water.

The company said that the guides and other participants immediately initiated rescue and resuscitation efforts to aid those caught in the rapids. Despite their efforts and the aid of emergency services, two participants a 34-year-old man and a 39-year-old woman, could not be resuscitated and were pronounced dead.

Revealing that it has been in close contact with the families of the deceased, The Travel Intern said that it has worked closely with the Singapore High Commission in South Africa to return the mortal remains of both the Singaporeans to Singapore.

The Travel Intern announced in a statement on Friday (30 June) that it has decided to put all upcoming expeditions to South Africa on hold, in order to “thoroughly re-evaluate and implement all necessary measures” with the South African tour operators it works with to ensure the safety of future tour participants and staff.

The company is also looking at organising trauma support for the affected participants, family members of the deceased, and staff in Singapore who have been impacted by the tragedy.

It said: “We extend our heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones affected by the tragic accident. We deeply empathise with the grief and sorrow they have to deal with during this challenging time and are committed to supporting the affected families and participants in every possible way.”

The company added, “We want to express our utmost gratitude to the participants, team, and local travel vendors for their patience and understanding during this challenging time.”

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