At least 259 dead in South Africa’s Durban area as flooding continues
Flooding in South Africa’s Durban area has taken at least 259 lives and is a “catastrophe of enormous proportions,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said Wednesday.
“This disaster is part of climate change. It is telling us that climate change is serious, it is here,” said Ramaphosa, visiting flooded areas of Durban and the surrounding eThekwini metropolitan area.
“We no longer can postpone what we need to do, and the measures we need to take to deal with climate change,” he said.
The death toll is expected to rise as search and rescue operations continue in KwaZulu-Natal province, officials said. The province is about to be declared a disaster area by the national government, Ramaphosa said.
“KwaZulu-Natal is going to be declared a provincial area of disaster, so that we are able to do things quickly. The bridges have collapsed, the roads have collapsed, people have died and people are injured,” Ramaphosa said.
He said one family had lost 10 members in the devastating floods.
Residents have had to flee their homes as the structures were swept away. Buildings collapsed and road infrastructure was severely damaged. Durban port was flooded and shipping containers were swept into a jumbled heap.
Authorities were also seeking to restore electricity to large parts of the province after heavy flooding at various power stations.
Rescue efforts by the South African National Defense Force were delayed as the military’s air wing was also affected by the floods, Gen. Rudzani Maphwanya said. The military was able to deploy personnel and helicopters around the province Wednesday, he said.
The South Africa Weather Services has warned of more wind and rain and the risk of continued flooding in Kwazulu-Natal and other provinces over the upcoming Easter weekend. South Africa’s Eastern Cape, Free State and North West provinces could be affected, it said.
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