Over 40, 000 people have been displaced after widespread flooding and landslides in the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Province of South Africa as landslides from torrential rains which started Monday continued to late in the week.
With death toll now topping 400 was initially placed at 259 on Wednesday, by a provincial official who said from an earlier estimate of just over 50.
The rains which temporary stopped, Friday, began again on Saturday raising fears of more deaths from the flooding and landslides.
Rains that have killed about 400 people and left thousands homeless in South Africa this week began pounding the east coast again on Saturday, threatening more flooding and forcing many to take refuge in community centres and town halls.
Providing an overview of the situation following the heavy rains and floods that engulfed the province in the past few days, the Premier of KZN, Sihle Zikalala, Friday, said a total number of 40 723 people have been affected.
“Three hundred and forty one (341) fatalities have been recorded, with EThekwini standing at 301, Ugu at 6, uMzinyathi at 2, King Cetshwayo with 4, and the Ilembe district with 28. A total 0f 55 injuries have been registered. More than 248 schools have been damaged,” said the Premier in a statement.
“We can confirm that the magnitude of the damage which is still being quantified will definitely run into billions of rands,” said Zikalala.
The floods have affected the electricity and water supply in the province, with the eThekwini municipality being the most affected.
Zikalala has acknowledged peoples’ cries of having no water or electricity since the floods began, saying that teams have been deployed and are working hard to return normality to all of their systems.
“EThekwini Metro is experiencing major water disruptions due to the damage to two, out of four, of Umgeni Water’s Nagle Aqueducts. These are the aqueducts that supply water to Umgeni Water’s biggest water treatment works called Durban Heights. This waterworks normally supplies about 540 Mega litres per day to the city.
“Currently, this capacity has been reduced to about 350 Mega litres per day. As a result, a number of areas have already run out of water. Tongaat Waterworks that supplies the whole of Tongaat suffered serious damage that will take months to repair,” said Zikalala.
In the interim, the municipality will be deploying more water tankers and is currently procuring a package plant that will be able to supply water. Umgeni Water and COGTA have also committed to assist with additional water tankers.
“We have proceeded with emergency work to clear roads and return access to highways such as N2, N3 and other important networks. More and more areas are becoming accessible and enabling the speed of emergency relief supply,” said Zikalala.
According to Zikalala, all responder departments and municipalities are on the ground providing relief support and emergency needs to communities.
He also added that psycho-social support and social relief including food, vouchers and blankets is being offered through the Department of Social Development to bereaved and affected families.
“Municipalities will announce burial assistance to the bereaved families who need support,” said Zikalala.
The Premier continued to invite all sectors of society to lend a helping hand, saying that retailers, shops, industry and business, farmers, neighbours can do something to make a difference.
It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had expressed shock at the disaster, as he described it as ‘one of the worst in our recent memory,’ in his message to his South African counterpart, Cyril Ramaphosa and the people of the southern Africa nation.
“I’m greatly shocked by this large-scale natural disaster which has caused widespread sufferings and fatalities in our sister country.
“The disruption of water and electricity supply, as well as the destruction of homes, makes this natural disaster one of the worst in our recent memory,” a statement, Friday, by Media and publicity aide to Buhari quoted the Nigerian leader as saying.
Buhari further called on other African leaders to ‘work together towards developing common and effective strategies for improving our emergency management response systems that will help us significantly reduce the human and economic impacts of natural disasters and impending climate change.’