Jumped off a Bad Honnef ferry Search ends for missing person on the Rhine
Bad Honnef · On Sunday evening, a search and rescue operation took place on the Rhine for a 61-year-old man who dove off a ferry into the river near Königswinter. Efforts to find him were unsuccessful.
At around 9:30 p.m. on Sunday evening, the police, fire department and other rescue services were called out to find a 61-year-old man from the Rhine-Sieg district who had jumped from a Bad Honnef ferry into the Rhine. A big search operation took place on the Rhine and at the riverbanks.
According to Björn Haupt, head of the Bad Honnef fire department, fire departments from Bonn, Unkel, Remagen, Bad Honnef and Königswinter were all deployed Sunday evening. Personnel from the German Live Saving Association (DLRG) and the German Red Cross (DRK) water rescue, special river current rescue services, a police helicopter with thermal camera and several police patrol cars were supporting the search operation.
Difficulties in searching for a person in the water
Several boats formed a search chain on the Rhine to try to locate the man. Rescuers also searched for him on the banks of the river. The Bad Honnef fire department had 25 emergency personnel at the scene. "Anyone who falls or jumps into the Rhine is carried away by the current," says Björn Haupt, explaining one of the difficulties of searching in the water. Looking at the water level and the flow velocity, Haupt estimates that the man could have drifted two kilometers downstream within 20 minutes that evening. But it is difficult to make an exact calculation, one reason is that the current in the middle of the river is much stronger than at the edge. Even where the Rhine is particularly wide, it flows more slowly.
Another problem when searching for a person in the water, especially at dusk and in the dark, is to spot them because usually only the head is sticking out. This is difficult even for experienced rescuers. It happens time and again that passers-by call the fire department because they think they have seen a person in the water, but in the end it turns out to be a tree trunk. Last year, this turned out to be the case for three search and rescue operations of the Bad Honnef fire department. In general, however, it is good that passers-by call for help if they suspect a person is in the water.
Barges and large vessels can also be a danger for people who have fallen into the Rhine, as Björn Haupt explains. The suction can pull a person under water, and the person can get caught in the propeller. Generally speaking, it is a massive challenge to swim against the current of the Rhine, even for very experienced lifeguards. For inexperienced people, who then also have their clothes and shoes on, it is even more difficult.
Search for 61-year-old in the Rhine is called off
As of Monday afternoon, the fate of the 61-year-old was still unclear. At around 11 p.m., the search was stopped and there were no plans to continue with it on Monday, according to police in their response to a GA inquiry. Because of the current of the Rhine, it is impossible to say where the man is currently located. The 61-year-old is now listed as a missing person. The police are in contact with the relatives.
A spokesman for the police said earlier that the 61-year-old man had dived headfirst from the ferry into the Rhine without warning. Why the man jumped into the water is still unclear, say the police. (Orig. text: Dierk Himstedt / Translation: ck)