Girl still missing after Mpuma storms

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Mbombela - A four-year-old girl is still missing after storms hit two Mpumalanga local municipalities on Tuesday evening.

Provincial Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Norman Mokoena said on Thursday the damaging hail storm affected Mataffin Trust outside Mbombela, as well as Langeloop and KaMhlushwa in Nkomazi.

"Unfortunately, a four-year-old child from KaMhlushwa allegedly drowned during the hail storm, and 265 houses were affected in both municipalities," said Mokoena.

He said police divers were still looking for the toddler.

"We would like to send our support to the friends and family of the child who is missing and we hope for good news," he said.

Mokoena was speaking during a press briefing attended by Mbombela Mayor Lassy Chiwayo, Mayor of the Ehlanzeni District Municipality Constance Mkhonto and John Mavuso, the Mayor of Nkomazi Local Municipality.

Chiwayo said 150 houses were affected by the storm in Mataffin, of which 147 houses' roofs were blown off. Two were completely demolished and one was flooded.

"We have since started to repair the roofs of the houses and provide blankets and tents to the families whose houses were destroyed," said Chiwayo.

In Langeloop, 115 houses were affected and the roofs of two schools were blown off.

"As the government we have a responsibility to provide shelter to our people who were affected, so we have called on non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to partner with us in coming up with a long-term solution.

"To provide short-term relief in Langeloop, we have provided 100 blanket and four tents to help the people affected," said Mavuso.

Mokoena also said the provincial Department of Social Services would be dispatched to the affected areas to provide food parcels and counselling to people.

"The Public Works Department will repair the shools that were damaged and our department will look at the issue of emergency housing," Mokoena said.

He said the department would also engage churches and NGOs to provide soup kitchens.
"We have also asked all municipalities to be on standby for possible storms as more rains are expected this rainy season," he said.