KZN flooding death toll rises, more rain expected

Floods in Port St Johns on the Wild Coast of the Eastern Cape. (Bantu Holomisa/Twitter)

Floods in Port St Johns on the Wild Coast of the Eastern Cape. (Bantu Holomisa/Twitter)

At least 21 people died in Durban on Tuesday after torrential rains triggered mudslides that crushed homes, according to emergency services.

Among those killed were a six-month-old baby, a 10-year-old child and two adults.

“Torrential rains damaged peoples houses [and] there were mudslides,” Garrith Jamieson, spokesman for Rescue Care told AFP.

“I can confirm five [deaths] but there are many more casualties,” he said, adding there were unconfirmed reports of “multiple” deaths in other parts of the province. Victims were either crushed to death by mudslides or drowned in flood waters. It was not immediately clear how many people were missing, but search and rescue efforts continued on Tuesday.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs in the province said weather conditions had worsened significantly claiming at least 21 lives with over 2 000 emergency calls logged.

KZN Cogta said the provincial government together with Ethekwini Metro and all affected municipalities, are currently mounting a ‘spirited response’ as part of efforts to alleviate the impact on communities and businesses.

Good Friday celebrations were marred when part of the Pentecostal Holiness Church near Empangeni collapsed killing 13 congregants on Thursday night.
According to KwaZulu-Natal Emergency Medical Services spokesperson Robert McKenzie, this is believed to have been the result of heavy rainfall in the northern part of the province.

Downpours have caused flooding in the southern and eastern parts of the country.

Port St Johns, on the Wild Coast of the Eastern Cape, has been battered by heavy rains and localised flooding. Hundreds had to be evacuated in Green Farm as the heavily flooded Mzimvubu River burst its banks. More rain is expected in the coming days.

Speaking to the SABC, Port St Johns Municipality speaker, Ayanda Gantsho said the municipality has decided to evacuate the villagers to the town hall and churches.

“We want to put them in the hall in the meantime. One thing we need the most is mattresses, food, blankets, heaters because it is very cold. And we have asked business people to assist us. We really need to be assisted with such things.”

The South African Weather Services has warned that more heavy rain is expected until Thursday which could lead to more flooding and pose a threat to low-lying bridges and roads. The service has issued warnings for the Eastern Cape, Central Karoo and the south coast of Western Cape, southern KwaZulu-Natal as well as the western parts of the North West and the Free State until Thursday.

Mbavhi Maliage, a forecaster for the weather service says there is a watch for possible flooding over the central interior of the Free State for Tuesday. An estimated 40mm of rainfall is expected in parts of the North West and the Free State. Durban has already received 165mm of rain over the past 24 hours, according to the weather service’s data.

The South African National Defence Force has committed will lend support to those affected by the flooding.

“Following heavy rains and flooding that has affected a large number of residents in and around Port St Johns, the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Ms NN Mapisa-Nqakula has instructed the South African National Defence [SANDF] to intervene to help rescue and evacuate those affected by this natural disaster,” the SANDF said in a statement.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more details emerge.

Kiri Rupiah

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