Two men from Sydney’s western suburbs have died after three fishermen were swept into the ocean at a popular fishing spot at Port Kembla on the NSW south coast.
Mahedi Khan, 30, and 37-year-old Mozaffor Ahmed, both from from Lakemba were unable to be revived after a wave knocked them into the water just before 7pm last night.
The deaths are the fifth in just a few weeks, at the same spot.
Emergency crews rushed to the scene after a highway patrol officer noticed a fisherman struggling in the water roughly 100m off the rocks at the spot known as Hill 60.
The officer and member of the public dived into the water in an attempt to save them, but it took around a dozen local surf lifesaving crews who rushed to help, to retrieve them from the water.
Both were winched from the water but couldn’t be saved.
Both men were originally from Bangladesh.
The third man, a 42-year-old from Wiley Park, was not injured but was taken to hospital.
None are believed to have been wearing life jackets.
Ten ambulance crews attended with paramedics treating a total of seven patients at the scene, including two police officers who suffered minor injuries and were taken to Wollongong hospital for assessment.
The two officers who had been spotting for the rescue helicopter were hit by a wave and suffered injuries including cuts, grazes and minor injuries to the hip and knee.
“We’re very lucky they are safe and well,” Superintendent Dean Smith from Lake Illawarra Police District said.
“I’m extremely proud of our officers and all our emergency services responders who went to the scene and did what they did.”
“That’s the job they do day in, day out and unfortunately in this circumstance who people were deceased as a result which is a tragedy.”
Inspector Norm Rees from NSW Ambulance said the incident was extremely challenging for first responders.
“No words can describe the chaotic scene that paramedic crew and other first responders we were faced with this evening,” he said.
“Surf living saving, bystanders and the Toll Ambulance Rescue Helicopter went above and beyond in the assistant of retrieving patients from the water and also helping paramedics with CPR.”
“It was absolutely heartbreaking to respond to a scene where previous lives have been lost despite the warnings,” Inspector Rees said.
Mr Dean urged people to “accept a level of personal responsibility” for the dangers of rock fishing in locations such as Port Kembla.
“We know its a popular activity in the Illawarra, we know only recently we lost another three people in the exact same area so we will be working closely with council, surf life saving and first responders to take sure we continuously push those safety messages.”
CEO of Lifesaving NSW, Steven Pearce issued a warning.
“If you intend to go rock fishing in conditions that are deemed dangerous without the personal protective gear then that is the risk that you take personally,” he said.