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KZN floods: Mchunu asks national government to declare state of disaster

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Willies Mchunu revealed on Monday that the cost of damage caused by the recent torrential rains in the province had risen to R1.1 billion.

Victims of the recent floods in KwaZulu-Natal receive meals from the Red Cross. Picture: @SARedCross/Twitter

DURBAN – KwaZulu-Natal Premier Willies Mchunu on Monday asked national government for assistance and for it to declare a provincial state of disaster.

Mchunu said the province needed “national government to invoke section 41 of the Disaster Management Act no.57 because the province alone cannot cope with these incidents”. That section of the act outlines parameters for the declaration of a provincial state of disaster.

Mchunu revealed on Monday that the cost of damage caused by the recent torrential rains in the province had risen to R1.1 billion.

Speaking at a media briefing in Durban, Mchunu said the damage in eThekwini alone was estimated at R685 million.

“We have recorded a total of 235 damaged private homes in eThekwini, and this figure continues to rise as new homes are being added to the list,” said Mchunu.

He revealed the official death toll had climbed to 70 after the body of a young man was discovered on Sunday in eTshelimnyama near Marianhill, eThekwini.

Mchunu said eThekwini suffered the highest number of fatalities. Sixty-four of the people who died lived in the municipality. The other six people were from the Ugu District Municipality.

Mchunu also called for those who had not yet visited mortuaries to identify their loved ones to do so. The mortuaries in Gale Street in the Durban city centre, Pinetown and Phoenix were identified by government for use after deaths caused by the floods.

TWO STILL MISSING

Mchunu said dedicated staff were placed at the mortuaries to ensure a smooth identification process, “so that there were no delays on government’s side that would impact funeral dates”.

“A total of 1,469 people found themselves displaced by the floods,” Mchunu added. “Over 50 people were injured and had to be treated in hospital. We continue to search for the two citizens who are still missing.”

To assist those affected, Mchunu said government “distributed humanitarian support in the form of food, blankets, mattresses and other key necessities” at various temporary shelters in the province.

Mchunu added government had set up a dedicated help desk at the eThekwini Disaster Management Centre to help bereaved families.

“The Department of Home Affairs has committed to fast-track the issuing of IDs and other relevant documents to all affected victims. SASSA (South African Social Security Agency) and the department of education are also supporting the victims, including ensuring that children get uniforms to go to school.”

The provincial government resolved all infrastructure that would be utilised in the upcoming elections “must be restored to normalcy without further delays”, Mchunu said.

A prayer service for those who died will take place on Thursday at the Curries Fountain Stadium in Durban.

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