CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — Two Americans and one Norwegian tourist on a South African shark cage diving adventure drowned Sunday when their boat was hit by a freak wave, tourism and rescue officials said.
The 10 passengers and nine crew members onboard were flung into the water when the boat capsized under the wave. Nearby boats rescued 16 people who were taken to a hospital with minor injuries, officials said.
The two Americans and one Norwegian were pronounced dead at the scene, said the head of the Great White Shark Protection Foundation, Mariette Hopley.
The accident happened in Gansbaai, which calls itself the Great White capital of the world because its waters are teeming with sharks. The small town, about two hours from Cape Town, attracts thousands of tourists each year who are lowered into the water in metal cages to view the sharks.
Hopley said the boat had just anchored around 10 a.m. and was preparing to lower the first cage into the water when the freak wave hit. She said there were no sharks in the immediate vicinity at the time.
She said it was the first accident since the advent of shark cage diving in Gansbaai in 1991.