Floods in South Africa leave 443 dead and dozens missing

ethekwini – Reuters

Rescue teams continued their efforts on Sunday to search for dozens of missing people in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, after torrential rains in recent days triggered floods and landslides that killed more than 440 people.

Floods and torrential rains also displaced thousands of people, downed power poles, disrupted water services and halted operations at the port of Durban, one of the busiest ports in Africa. An economic official in the region estimated the total damage to infrastructure at more than ten billion rand ($684.6 million).

The death toll rose to 443, KwaZulu-Natal Prime Minister Sihel Zikalala said, with 63 missing.

In some of the hardest-hit areas, residents said they feared the rain that was expected to fall on Sunday. Some residents anxiously await news of their missing loved ones.

“We haven’t given up hope,” said Spongeil Miuka, a resident of Ithakwini’s Sunshine Village who lost her eight-year-old nephew. Although we are constantly worried as the days go by.”

“We feel a psychological shock when we see the rain,” said Mioka, 47, noting that her house was severely damaged.

In a nearby rural area, three members of the Sepia family were killed when the walls of the room they were sleeping in collapsed, and 4-year-old Bonjica Sepia is still missing.

“It’s all harsh remembering what we lost and our inability to find Bonjica is devastating because we can’t get past the pain,” said Lithiwe Sepia, 33.

In a statement late Saturday, President Cyril Ramaphosa’s office said it had postponed a visit abroad to focus on responding to the disaster. The president is scheduled to meet with the cabinet to assess ways to address the crisis. KwaZulu-Natal Chief Minister Zikalala said in a televised briefing that the flooding was among the worst in his province’s recorded history.

“We need to awaken our collective courage and turn this devastation into an opportunity to rebuild our province,” he added. The people of KwaZulu-Natal will rise again from this ordeal.”

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