Officials fear a British tour guide has drowned Monday after leaping into a treacherous sea to save teenagers on a school trip in South Africa.

Sean Foxcroft, 24, plucked one teenager to safety as strong currents threatened to sweep the group away at St. Lucia Beach.

But the trained lifeguard was himself dragged under the waves, and disappeared.

The other youngsters — among 15 students on a safari-style trip — managed to get back to the shore. Last night the 16 to 18-year-olds from Wiltshire were receiving counseling.

Experienced adventurer Foxcroft, from Bury, Greater Manchester, was working as a freelance guide for London-based firm World Challenge on the life skills trip.

Spokesman Chris Gallant said: “There’s hope he may be found alive, but we have to be realistic. “We are told by the local emergency services that it is unlikely.”

The students from Wootton Bassett School had been cooling off in shallow surf in the Indian Ocean after a beach rugby game on Sunday afternoon at St. Lucia, 200 miles north of Durban.

A spokesman for South Africa’s National Sea Rescue Institute said: “Some students got into difficulty and the man went missing in the surf while assisting a fellow expedition leader to rescue the group.”

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