Durban storm death toll has risen to at least six

A police officer has died in Durban after a container collapsed onto a police car in a chaotic storm that has swept parts of KwaZulu Natal into disaster.

The South African Police Service confirmed that the police officer had died on Tuesday, as rains flooded Durban, causing extensive damage. Parts of the N2 are underwater and cars are stranded on Prospecton Road, south of Durban. A bridge near the popular Gateway Mall has started to cave in.

The eThekwini municipality has been most affected after being lashed with high speed winds of 70km/h.

Paramedics have already rescued people trapped in their homes and caught in rivers or stranded minibus taxis. Journalists have also joined in the rescue as King Edward Hospital in Durban, South Africa’s second largest hospital, lost its roof in the stormy winds.

KZN Health Department spokesperson Desmond Motha told News24 that King Edward VIII Hospital, Addington Hospital and Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital were among the eight hospitals that received structural damage during the storm. The damage included flooding, shattered windows and roofs blown off in the wind.

Schools have not been spared from the wreckage. The Department of Education has said that 300 schools are affected by the storms. Many of these schools are in Amanzimtoti and Umlazi where parents were asked to fetch their children during the storm.

Waves have reached heights of 2.9 and 4.2m along Durban’s coast, with video showing a shipping container losing its course and heading towards the beach on Tuesday. At its highest, the swells have been two metres above average. Authorities have announced that Wednesday’s wave swells could reach over 6m along the Durban and Mapotu coastline. During the storm’s height on Tuesday, three ships had lost their moorings in Durban harbour. 

UPDATE: The death toll of the Durban Storm has reached at least six.  According to authorities six individuals died during the storm. The victims include a 12 year-old boy, one police officer, and two individuals who died leaving Prince Mshiyeni hospital when a wall collapsed. 

Several people have been injured including an infant, a 73-year-old woman, and a patient from a mental hospital. 

Parents have been asked to liaise with schools on whether or not to send their children to school. eThekwini municipality has asked residents to refrain from posting older pictures of the storm and to remain indoors until the storm passes on Wednesday afternoon. 

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