Rain continues to hit the flood-ravaged east of South Africa | Flood news
Flood-ravaged east South Africa was hit by more rain after the deadliest storm to hit the country in living memory killed nearly 400 people and left tens of thousands homeless.
Floods this week engulfed parts of the eastern coastal city of Durban, tearing apart roads, destroying hospitals and wiping out homes and people trapped inside.
Emergency services in the southeastern province of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), where Durban is located, were on high alert as the weather forecast forecast more rain this weekend.
“The death toll has risen and currently stands at 398, with 27 people still missing,” a government official said Saturday, announcing that 58 hospitals and clinics were “severely affected”.
Recovery and humanitarian relief operations are underway in the city of 3.5 million people that would normally have been teeming with Easter vacationers this weekend.
“It’s already raining in parts of KZN, but it won’t be as hectic as it has been in the last few days,” South Africa Weather Service senior meteorologist Puseletso Mofokeng told AFP news agency.
“But because the ground is excessively saturated with water, we can still experience a lot of flooding,” he warned.
Between 25 mm (one inch) and 45 mm (1.75 inches) of rain was forecast on Saturday, compared to more than 300 mm (11.8 in) over a 24-hour period in some regions on Monday.
The latest rains, which left at least 40,000 people without shelter, electricity or water this week, are expected to continue until early next week.
“We have no water, no electricity, even our phones are dead. We’re stuck, ”Gloria Linda said, as she took cover under a large umbrella on a muddy road in her town of Kwandengezi, about 30km (20 miles) inland from Durban.
Disaster management teams said they were “on high alert to respond quickly to communities known to be at high risk, to avoid or minimize the impact of the disaster.”
Shawn Herbst of first responders Netcare 911 said, “Unfortunately, there are still bodies recovered from farms, especially rural areas.”
“There is still damage going on, especially with the rain we are experiencing today.”
The floods damaged more than 13,500 homes and completely destroyed around 4,000.
Authorities have urged people in high-risk areas to relocate to community facilities such as corridors and schools.
Clean water is scarce and the authorities have promised to deploy tankers.
In Umlazi, one of the largest townships in the country, south of Durban, flood victims huddled under blankets in a community hall, while others formed long lines for food and water pantries donated by charities. .
“What pisses me off is that this situation always happens,” said Mlungeli Mkokelwa, a 53-year-old man who came to the settlement ten years ago to look for a job he never found.
“Our assets continue to be destroyed by continuous floods which should be dealt with by the authorities. Nobody ever comes back with a plan to solve it ”.
The government has announced a billion rand ($ 68 million) in emergency funding.
South African billionaire and head of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Patrice Motsepe donated what he called a “humble contribution” of R30 million ($ 2 million).
“Our people are suffering. We really want the 30 million to be spent urgently, “Motsepe said, announcing the donation in front of the Zulu King, Misuzulu Zulu, in a hall hosting the displaced.
Find survivors, recover bodies
Six days after the floods first hit, hopes of finding survivors are fading and Durban Emergency Medical Services spokesman Robert McKenzie said the response has focused on recovery and humanitarian aid.
“There has been a shift in emergency response as we have moved from the emergency phase to the disaster recovery phase,” he said.
The survivors are still desperate for missing relatives.
“We get calls constantly on a daily basis. Yesterday 35 calls were made and six bodies were recovered, ”said Travis Trower, director of the volunteer organization Rescue South Africa.
South Africa, the continent’s most industrialized country, is also struggling to recover from the two-year COVID pandemic and last year’s deadly riots that killed more than 350 people, mainly in the now flood-affected southeastern region.
“Just like we thought it was safe to get out of it [the COVID] disaster, we have another disaster, a natural disaster affecting our country, “President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a Good Friday speech.
The floods are “a catastrophe of enormous proportions … never seen before in our country”.