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KZN residents start rebuilding after deadly floods

The death toll is now at 51 and five other people remain unaccounted for.

A house in Amanzimtoti, Durban, suffered structural damage after a collapse due to heavy rain on 23 April 2019. Picture: @ER24EMS/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG – KwaZulu-Natal residents are still reeling from this week’s heavy rains which have led to deadly floods, power cuts, and blocked roads.

The death toll is now at 51 and five other people remain unaccounted for.

Search and rescue operations resumed on Wednesday morning after more bodies were discovered overnight.

Local authorities said they were working to restore services to affected communities.

KZN Cooperative Governance MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube said residents had started to rebuild their homes.

“The teams are working hard to ensure that we restore electricity and water to those areas where power and water were cut off due to the damage to the infrastructure. So, mop-up operations and search and rescue are continuing this morning,” she said.

RAMAPHOSA VISITS KZN FLOOD AREAS

President Cyril Ramaphosa commended rescue teams for risking their lives in saving residents in the flood-stricken areas.

He sent his condolences to the families who lost loved ones.

“We felt that we needed to come and see for ourselves what is happening and what has happened. We pass our condolences to the families of those who have died in this terrible disaster,” he said.

The president also announced that National Treasury was making emergency funds available to help with relief efforts.

Meanwhile, the president was also expected to also visit the Eastern Cape where severe thunderstorms could lead to more flooding.

Three people died due to heavy rain over the past few days.

Areas which could again be affected included Port Alfred, East London, and Port St Johns.

The Alfred Nzo District Municipality's spokesperson Lubabalo Majenge said a 12-year-old school girl had drowned in the Lubhacweni Village in KwBhaca.

She was crossing a flooded bridge.

Majenge said a 39-year-old woman’s body was found near a river in Mbizana and a man died in Ngqeleni.

He said meetings were being held to coordinate a response to the flooding.

“Currently, the district municipality is meeting with all the role players in the disaster joint operation where they will be coming up with plans on how they are going to respond,” Majenge said.

Authorities were urging residents, especially those in low lying areas, to monitor water levels and move to safer spaces if flooding occurs.

The KwaZulu-Natal government has called on the families of those who died in the Easter weekend floods to come forward and identify their loved ones.

Acting KZN premier Sihle Zikalala said national government’s support was welcome.

“We are grateful for the support and we are currently trying to consolidate all emergency efforts, including ensuring that all the people whose houses were damaged get proper accommodation. They are still in halls and we are trying to get infrastructure there,” Zikalala said.

EASTERN CAPE FLOODS DEATH TOLL RISES

At the same time, the death toll from flooding in the Eastern Cape on Wednesday rose to four.

Among the deceased were a 21-month-old child who fell into a ditch in Nelson Mandela Bay and a 12-year-old who drowned while crossing a river in Mzimvubu Local Municipality.

Two adults also died due to flooding in Mbizana and Nyandeni.

Spokesperson for the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) in the Eastern Cape Mamnkeli Ngam said the four victims were aged between 21 months and 39 years.

Ngam said they were still waiting for the assessments and recommendations from district operation centres and municipal councils.

“For now the MEC is confirming that there is no declaration of a state of emergency in the province until such a time we have satisfied ourselves on the extent of the damage and what still needs to be done.”

A decision was expected to be made to declare a state of disaster.

Meanwhile, in the Free State, Cogta has started monitoring rainfall in the province.

“Currently, there hasn’t been a crisis situation. We have been only experiencing normal rainfall because we have an agricultural province, so the absorption of rain has been very high,” said Cogta spokesperson Tembeni Lobe.

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