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Durban flood death toll rises to at least 51 - dept

KwaZulu-Natal Cooperative Governance MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube said that more bodies were discovered under the rubble as rescue operations continued throughout Tuesday night.

Police officers try to rescue people trapped in their homes destroyed in a mudslide following torrential downpours and flash floods, near Westcliff Secondary School in Chatsworth, south of Durban on 23 April 2019. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - The KwaZulu-Natal Cooperative Governance department says that the death toll in the Durban floods has risen to at least 51, while five people remain unaccounted for.

MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube said that more bodies were discovered under the rubble as rescue operations continued throughout Tuesday night.

The MEC said that hundreds of people have been displaced and are in desperate need of food and other necessities.

Meanwhile, President Cyril Ramaphosa is in KwaZulu-Natal on Wednesday morning to visit areas affected by the devastating floods which have claimed the lives of 32 people.

The eThekwini Municipality has been hit by heavy rains that have resulted in mudslides.

Several people are still unaccounted for, while some schools and universities remain closed due to the destruction.

Some Durban residents who witnessed the deadly floods have recounted the panic and horror.

Aid is expected to start pouring in to help those affected. Most people are being housed in community halls.

Nokhanyo Zungu from New Germany said that she was woken up in the early hours of on Tuesday by the loud screams of a woman whose house was literally falling apart.

“She lost her mind. She was traumatised. We tried to get into the bedroom, but the water was too high and the bodies of her two sons were inside.”

Mthandeni Zulu from Umlazi said that he saw a house crashing down with a seven-year-old boy inside.

“I’m shocked, I’ve never seen anything like this in my life. I tried to help him, but he was too deep in the water... I failed.”

The KwaZulu-Natal Cooperative Governance Department said that the MEC and other officials have been deployed around Durban to assist with search and rescue operations.

Mop-up operations are also expected to begin in earnest as communities try to salvage what’s left of their belongings and rebuild their lives.

WATCH: Coastal mudslides, floods leave SA devastated

At the same time, the South African Weather Service has issued a watch for severe thundershowers in the Eastern Cape, which could lead to more floods.

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

SA Weather Service forecaster Edward Engelbrecht said: “We have a watch out for severe storms that may lead to rainfall in that area for the coastline between Port Alfred up to Port St Johns.”

Additional information by Kgomotso Modise.

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