Around 60 people have been killed in South Africa in floods caused by several days of heavy rain on the east coast. A previous toll reported at least 45 dead.
New “extreme” rains are expected overnight from Tuesday to Wednesday in Kwazulu-Natal province, accompanied by “widespread flooding”, warned the South African meteorological services. Forty-five people were killed in the metropolis of Durban, the region’s largest city, and “at least 14 people lost their lives” in the neighboring district of iLembe, provincial authorities said in a statement.
Material damage and looting
Throughout the day, rescue operations continued, particularly in Durban, one of the main African ports open to the Indian Ocean. The army was mobilized to provide air support during the evacuations. Collapsed bridges, devastated roads, residents and schoolchildren remained prisoners of the rising waters for several hours. At least 140 schools have been affected.
More than 2,000 homes were damaged along with some 4,000 informal dwellings, according to the provincial government. Many roads have been cut. Container stocks fell like dominoes on one of the region’s main highways. Looting was reported, with televisions showing images of people stealing goods from metal boxes. Local NGO Gift of the Givers described “highways turning into rivers” and people trapped under collapsed walls.
On the popular beaches of Durban, heaps of debris, branches, plastic bottles, have piled up. The heavy rains also led to power cuts and disrupted water supplies, said the town’s mayor, Mxolisi Kaunda. Rail links have been suspended due to landslides and rubble on the tracks. And the inhabitants were called upon to avoid any displacement.
The city of Durban has already seen massive destruction during a wave of rioting and looting in July, the worst violence in the country since the end of apartheid, originally sparked by the incarceration of the former President Jacob Zuma.