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SA floods: Air force called in to help with rescue operations in Port St Johns

The Alfred Nzo District Municipality on Wednesday urged residents in low-lying areas to monitor water levels and to move to higher ground if necessary.

Flooding over the Easter weekend at Port Saint Johns in the Eastern Cape. Picture: @BantuHolomisa/Twitter

CAPE TOWN – Serious flooding prompted the South African Air Force to dispatch helicopters to assist with rescue operations in Port St Johns in the Eastern Cape.

The Alfred Nzo District Municipality on Wednesday urged residents in low-lying areas to monitor water levels and to move to higher ground if necessary.

The municipality’s Lubabalo Majenge said disaster teams were assessing the extent of the damage.

He said in some parts of the municipality river water was flowing over bridges.

"We are still warning people against crossing over the unsafe areas," he said.

Majenge said a 12-year-old schoolgirl had drowned in Lubhacweni village in KwaBhaca.

She was walking across 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.

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 was at 51 on Wednesday and five other people remained 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.

CYCLONE KENNETH TO HIT MOZAMBIQUE

Meanwhile, another tropical cyclone was expected to make landfall on Mozambique’s coast on Thursday just over a month after a more powerful storm struck the Mozambican port city of Beira further south and killed hundreds of people.

Weather forecasters said Cyclone Kenneth would bring heavy rainfall, strong winds, and waves of several metres to the southern African nation, which is still reeling from the effects of devastating Cyclone Idai.

A cyclone report issued by a regional Cyclone Monitoring Centre on the French island of Réunion warns parts of southern Tanzania could also be affected by Cyclone Kenneth.

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