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South Africa flood toll rises to 443 as deluge eases

DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA (AFP) – The death toll from floods that have battered South Africa climbed above 440 on Sunday as abating rains allowed rescue operations to accelerate after one of the deadliest storms in living memory.

Torrential rains that started lashing the southeastern coastal region last weekend quickly triggered heavy floods and landslides that smashed into Durban city and surrounding areas, pulling with them buildings and people.

By Sunday, 443 people, including two police emergency workers, had died from the raging floods.At least 63 other people are still missing and feared dead after the floodwaters engulfed the region, trashing beaches with debris.

Rains were starting to let up, allowing for search and relief aid operations to continue in and around Durban.

Most casualties were in Durban, a port city and a major economic hub. Parts of the city have been without water after floods ripped away infrastructure.

Scores of hospitals and more than 500 schools have been destroyed. The intensity of the floods took South Africa, the most economically advanced African country, by surprise.

Displaced people take refuge at a local hall in Ntuzuma township following heavy rains in Durban, South Africa. PHOTO: AFP