Floods in South Africa leave 443 dead and dozens missing

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Almost rainless skies on Sunday seemed to offer a respite for South Africa, whose east coast was battered by floods that left 443 dead, according to a new toll, with dozens still missing.

Most of the victims were registered in the Durban region, a port city of 3.5 million inhabitants in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) open to the Indian Ocean and where heavy rains have been falling for a week, causing floods and landslides. deadly.

“The number of dead is now 443,” Provincial Minister Sihle Zikalala told a news conference. Some 63 people are still missing.

Some 63 people are still missing.

The rain was still falling in some places but insignificant compared to the previous days. “The risk of flooding is low today in KwaZulu-Natal,” meteorologist Puseletso Mofokeng of the National Institute of Meteorology told AFP. “The precipitation will completely dissipate on Wednesday and through the end of next week.”

In recent days, ministers and traditional leaders, Zulu King Misuzulu Zulu and President Cyril Ramaphosa, who has postponed a trip abroad, have been on the ground to assess the extent of the damage and support mourners.

Families have been decimated, losing several members in a matter of seconds. Children and babies have died, drowned or been buried in landslides.

Flooding in the KwaZulu-Natal province in eastern South Africa.

Xinhua via Europa Press/EP

On this Easter Sunday, calls to prayer for the victims multiplied during religious gatherings.

“This is a tragedy of overwhelming proportions,” said Thabo Makgoba, Archbishop of Cape Town and Desmond Tutu’s successor, speaking of “stress and pain” for the community.

Emergency services remain on alert, but receive fewer calls. “The number of cases related to the floods has decreased,” Robert McKenzie, who is part of the relief, told AFP.

This is a tragedy of overwhelming proportions.”



Thabo MakgobaArchbishop of Cape Town

One team was in the suburb of Pinetown in the morning. A house collapsed during the night. “Fortunately, the flood waters have receded and some roads are clear, making access easier,” the rescuer explained.

About 340 social service representatives have been deployed to provide psychological support in the affected areas. Food vouchers, school uniforms and blankets continue to be distributed.

More than 250 schools have been affected. Almost 4,000 houses razed, more than 13,500 damaged. Many hospitals, heavily used for the wounded, have fallen into disrepair.

Almost 4,000 houses have been razed

Authorities expect hundreds of millions of euros in damage. The region had already experienced massive destruction in July during an unprecedented wave of rioting and looting.

The poorest of the municipalities have been greatly affected by the climate. Houses made of corrugated iron sheets or simple wooden planks, often built on unbuildable and flood-prone land, did not last long in the deluge.

In some parts of the province, water and electricity have been cut off since Monday. Desperate residents were seen loading buckets of water into carts on the side of the road. Food is missing, what was left rotted.

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Mass funeral for some victims of the floods.

STR / EFE

Donations are collected throughout the country, especially at fire stations. Pasta, preserves, toppings. An emergency government aid of 63 million euros (1 billion rand) has been announced.

Every year, the hurricane season from November to April unleashes storms in southern Africa. Countries like Madagascar or Mozambique are regularly hit by deadly storms. But South Africa is generally spared.

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