South African Rescue operations underway after rainstorms

Hauwa Mustapha

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At least 59 people have died in floods and mudslides after rainstorms struck the KwaZulu-Natal province, authorities said.

Rescue operations, aided by the military, are underway to evacuate people trapped in affected areas, the provincial Department of Cooperative Governance said.

Those trapped include teachers and students at a Durban secondary school, it said.

The South African port city of Durban and its surroundings awoke to unrecognizable landscapes.

The authorities said on Tuesday at least 45 people died in floods and mudslides after rainstorms struck the KwaZulu-Natal province.

In South Africa’s second most populous province, mudslides and landslips shut dozens of roads forcing residents to fight their way through.

Nathan Berg, a resident, remembers the terrible night water level rose: The rain and the floods got very heavy, the bottom of this bank gave way and caused the rest of the bank to give away which caused the wall to give away. And now that is all across the road.

More than 2,000 houses and 4,000 “informal” homes, or shacks, have been damaged, provincial premier told the media.

Some truck drivers spending the night in their vehicle even had to flee for their lives.

At around 3 am, Mthunzi Ngcobo starts, I felt the truck shaking and I thought maybe someone bumped it and when I tried to open the curtain I saw the water level which was very high. I tried frantically to start the truck, and it refused at first and then eventually it started, and then there was lots of water so I drove and then started waking others up. I managed to get out of the yard and then I got the other men out.

The country’s rail service PRASA said landslips and rubble on the tracks had forced it to suspend all train services in the province.

The disaster management department in KwaZulu-Natal province, of which Durban is the largest city ordered those residing in low-lying areas to move to higher ground.


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