A German tourist has been praised for his quick response in saving the life of a local Balinese teenager in the late afternoon of Sunday, 20th November. The incident occurred on Keramas Beach in South Bali. The 14-year-old boy from Keramas Village was playing in the shallows when he was hit by a large wave and dragged by the undercurrent.
The incident was confirmed to reporters in a press conference on Monday, 21st November. Head of Emergency and Logistics for Giyanar BPBD, I Gusti Ngurah Dibya Presasta, confirmed the events as they unfolded. According to Presasta, witnesses close to the beach first alerted the lifeguards to the situation further down the coast. “The witnesses saw the victim being swept away by the coastal current. The victim could not pull over. Then the witnesses called Balawista [lifeguards]. Not long after, help came from Balawista”.
During this time, the German tourist also spotted the young man struggling in the water. He paddled over and began his own rescue attempts as the lifeguards were being mobilized. Presasta continued, “Officers managed to save the victim with the help of a foreigner from Germany who happened to be surfing in front of Villa Suwan.”
Presasta has expressed his gratitude to all involved in the rescue. Although the teenager is believed to have lost consciousness, he quickly came back around once he was back on dry land. After a lot of coughing and vomiting, he could clear his airways. His parents collected him shortly after the incident. According to the lifeguards, the wave conditions on Sunday afternoon were changing quickly and unpredictably.
Presasta warned the public, “We don’t want things to happen that we don’t want. There are families waiting at home. Before swimming, we hope the residents will see the wave and weather conditions at that time”. Although Bali is well known for its family-friendly beaches, the ever-changing conditions on the water mean that anyone entering the water can never be too careful.
Tidal conditions change most dramatically around the new and full moon. With the new moon this week, and the rainy season in full swing, beach-goers are encouraged to take extra precautions if entering the water.
Though many beaches in Bali have a lifeguard or Balawista posts, many do not. Even fewer beaches have a flag system in use daily. There are many areas along Bali’s coastline that appear at surface level to be safe to swim or surf, though what can’t be seen is the strong undercurrent that has caused heartbreak for many.
In October, a British tourist was swept away while snorkeling in Blue Lagoon in Padang Bai. He has not been found despite extensive efforts by Bali Search and Rescue, the Indonesian Navy, and the family of missing Graham Smith.
The Smith family raised over GBP 22,000 to conduct a private search and rescue operation after the statuary 7-day search period funding by the local authorities bought them no closer to finding him. No further public update has been shared about the case since 8th October.
Travelers are reminded to swim only in areas where they are confident it is safe to do so. Always tell someone before entering the water, and ideally, only enter the water in areas with a lifeguard post in operation.
Travelers are also advised to listen to the warning from local people about the dangers of sacred or ‘haunted’ waters. Though this may mean little to visitors, beneath the spiritual meaning, which is to be respected, there is also usually a tangible explanation why such areas aren’t recommended for swimming. Rapidly changing tides and undercurrents can be dangerous even for confident swimmers and divers.
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