SA floods kill two, cause millions in damage

Severe floods along South Africa’s southern coast killed two people and caused millions of rand in damage near one of the country’s top tourist attractions, officials said on Monday.

Police said a 62-year-old man and a 12-year-old boy drowned as rivers burst their banks and roads were washed away in Eden District municipality, part of the Garden Route 490km south-east of Cape Town.

Helicopters and National Sea Rescue Institute boats were used to rescue people trapped by dangerously rising waters in the area, which is immensely popular with tourists for the beauty of towns such as Knysna, George and Plettenberg Bay.

Financial losses were expected to be severe.

”By Saturday, some places were still inaccessible, so there is no final figure but it is likely to be more than it was last year at R600-million,” Shado Twala, spokesperson for the premier of the Western Cape province, said.

Twala said the provincial government first wanted to assess the extent of the flood damage before declaring the area a disaster zone, mainly because towns depended on tourist-generated revenue.

”It is difficult to sell it [the route] back to tourists if it was declared a disaster area. … We don’t want to do this willy-nilly,” Twala said.

Last year parts of Eden District municipality were declared a disaster area after heavy rains washed away a section of the Kaaimans bridge, severely disrupting tourism in the area.

Gerhard Otto, disaster management chief at the municipality, said more than 1 500 people were evacuated during the week-long operation, with many being still being fed in community halls.

”Everyone is at full alert again because we are still experiencing heavy rains from Riversdale to Mossel Bay and moving towards George,” Otto said. – Reuters

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