Thursday, July 25, 2024
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South Africa deluge easing but flood emergency lingers

DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA (AFP) – Rains were expected to let up in South Africa’s flood-ravaged east yesterday after one of the deadliest storms in living memory killed nearly 400 and left tens of thousands homeless.

Floodwaters engulfed parts of the southeastern coastal city of Durban and surrounding areas this week ripping apart roads, destroying hospitals and sweeping away homes and those trapped inside.

The city of 3.5 million was overcast but national forecaster with the South African Weather Service, Puseletso Mofokeng, said “rainfall is actually clearing”.

“The rainfall is going to clear all completely as we move to Wednesday,” he told AFP.

But recovery operations and humanitarian relief continued in the coastal city of 3.5 million whose beaches and warm Indian Ocean waters would normally have been teeming with Easter holidaymakers.

The number of flood-related emergency calls had decreased compared to early last week.
“Emergency services are still currently on high alert yesterday morning,” Robert McKenzie of the provincial KwaZulu-Natal emergency services told AFP.

Volunteers from the local community hand out food parcels to needy residents following heavy rains and winds in Durban. PHOTO: AFP

It rained on Saturday and overnight, “however now, it has stopped”, said McKenzie.

Even so, emergency services were busy attending to a scene in the district of Pinetown where a house collapsed overnight.

“Fortunately now the flood waters have receded and (some) roads cleared. It’s a lot easier to access the community,” he said.

Government and charities were marshalling relief aid for the more than 40,000 people left homeless by the raging floodwaters.

The government has announced an immediate ZAR1 billion (USD68 million) in emergency relief funding.

Deputy Social Development Minister Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, said some 340 social workers had been deployed to offer support to traumatised survivors with many still missing children and other relatives.

The death toll rose on Saturday to 398 while 27 people were reported still missing, the government said in a Saturday statement.