Heavy rains in KZN claim 21 lives

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Weather conditions in KwaZulu-Natal worsened significantly across the province last night, claiming at least 21 lives and resulting in 32 patients in and around Durban hospitals. 

Over 2 000 emergency calls were logged last night. 

The heavy rain resulted in massive damage to public and private infrastructure.

KZN has experienced heavy rainfall since the start of the Easter weekend, which contributed to the collapse of the Pentecostal Holiness Church near Empangeni. The incident claimed 13 lives and several others sustained injuries.

In a joint statement, the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) and eThekwini Metro said they have reports of collapsed walls and mudslides as well as roads that have been flooded.

Parts of the province are also experiencing power failures as a result of the extreme weather.

The KZN Provincial Government, together with the eThekwini Metro and all affected municipalities, is currently mounting a spirited response as part of efforts to alleviate the impact of these extreme weather conditions on communities and businesses, and to bring the lives of the people affected back to normality.

“We have since the early hours of today been responding to last night’s incessant rain that has wreaked untold damage in our communities and to devise a way forward in our joint efforts as local and provincial government to begin with relief and response operations.

“Our purpose today is also to assure the communities that our government is on top of its game in our endeavour to minimise the impact of this storm on our residents and businesses.

“We have now sourced additional capacity from uMsunduzi Municipality and iLembe District. Most deaths have been reported from Chatsworth, uMlazi and New Germany, where two kids below seven years were killed,” the provincial government said.

The weather is not going to be abating soon, as the weather centre forecasted more rain and gale force winds coming from the southern part of KZN.

“We will be moving to the ground to conduct assessments. Some rivers have broken their banks and we urge people to be extra cautious. We are also issuing warnings for the northern parts of KZN, including King Cetshwayo District Municipality,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, national government has expressed sadness and has sent condolences to the families and friends of those killed and injured.

GCIS Acting Director-General Phumla Williams said government is encouraged by the concerted efforts by the affected communities, who came together during the crisis to help those in need.

“South Africans are resilient and strong. During a crisis, we support each other and work together to bring back normality to communities.

“These tragic incidents have also been marked by acts of courage and kindness that make us proud to be called South Africans,” Williams said.

Displaced communities will be temporarily accommodated in community halls, where they will receive emergency relief assistance.

In the affected town of Port St Johns in the Eastern Cape, developing disaster situations may be directed through the Port St Johns Disaster Satellite Centre on 073 596 8082.

Disaster management teams are on high alert and ready to assist affected communities.

Government urges the public to remain alert as heavy rains are expected to continue.

Community members are advised to avoid crossing low lying bridges, streams, rivers and motorists are encouraged to exercise caution and avoid driving in flooded areas.

In the event of an emergency, members of the public are advised to call emergency management services on 10177.

Weather SA has urged the public to regularly follow weather forecasts on television and radio. Updated information can also be found at www.weathersa.co.za. – SAnews.gov.za