Home News South Africa: at least 341 dead in historic floods (Video)

South Africa: at least 341 dead in historic floods (Video)

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At least 341 people have died in floods caused by heavy rains on the east coast of South Africa. Unheard of in the recent history of the country.

Collapsed bridges, submerged roads, destroyed houses, landslides… The bad weather left behind a devastated landscape around the port city of Durban, the first city in the province of Kwazulu-Natal and epicenter of the disaster.

“Our morgues are under some pressure, but we are coping. Yesterday evening, (…) we received some 253 bodies,” said Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu, representative of the health department in the province, in a television interview. Rescuers described them as “a nightmare”, while dozens of people are still wanted.

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Precipitation has reached since last weekend a level not seen for more than sixty years. “In forty-eight hours, more than 450 mm of water fell in certain areas,” a forecaster from the national meteorological institute told Agence France-Presse. Specialists compared the level of precipitation to that “normally associated with cyclones”.

Climate change

President Cyril Ramaphosa visited bereaved families in the morning. In Clermont, a poor suburb of Durban, he promised government aid to a father who lost his four children, buried in the collapse of a section of their house.

“We see similar tragedies hitting Mozambique, Zimbabwe, but today it is we who are affected,” lamented Cyril Ramaphosa.

“We know that it is climate change that is getting worse, we have gone from extreme storms in 2017, to supposed record floods in 2019 but clearly exceeded today in 2022”, warned Mary Galvin, professor of Development Studies at the University of Johannesburg. In 2019, floods in the region and the neighboring province of Eastern Cape had already claimed 70 lives and devastated several coastal villages in mudslides.

Early warning systems help warn people before natural disasters, such as storms, occur.

Last July, the province of Kwazulu-Natal experienced massive destruction during an unprecedented wave of riots and looting sparked by the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma.

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