Durban -KwaZulu-Natal has been placed on red alert after heavy rains that have led to the deaths of at least 12 people, including and two girls believed to have drowned in the Pongola River.
Fezile Mabika, 9, and Nelisiwe Gumede, 14, had been crossing the river with a group of pupils after school on Tuesday.
Police and provincial disaster management crews were still searching for them on Wednesday.
Spokesman for the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), Lennox Mabaso, said four pupils in the group managed to swim to safety.
The Ugu District Municipality on the KZN South Coast was worst hit by the storms, the department said.
At least 70 homes – including formal and informal dwellings – were damaged and 295 people were affected in the Ugu district.
Cogta MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube has placed the province on red alert after weather forecasters predicted more heavy rains today.
SA Weather Services forecaster Mduduzi Mthembu said severe storms were predicted in the northern parts of the province, with an 80 percent chance of rain, thunderstorms and lightning.
He said torrential rains could lead to flooding in low-lying areas.
In Durban and the South Coast, there was a 60 percent chance of rain in the afternoon, with lightning and thunderstorms expected.
Most of the fatalities were on the South Coast with eight people confirmed dead after their homes collapsed due to the heavy rains and lightning, Mabaso said.
The department released the names of the deceased on Wednesday.
They are Thulani Mthethwa, 30, Vumbuthu Shange, 75, Langalishe Smangele, 5, Bhekuyise Jacob Gcwensa, 68, Hlabeyakhe Mnguni, 48, Londekile Hazel Mbuthu, Nono Zwane, and a yet-to-be identified 19-year-old man.
At the weekend in Luganda near Klaarwater, two children – Alwande Ngcobo and Senamile Cele – died when they drowned in a pit. Their mothers had been mopping up after their shacks came under water.
In the KZN Midlands, several people were being treated in hospital after they were injured by lightning.
Dube-Ncube said temporary shelter and food were being provided to the displaced victims, and disaster management officials would continue to monitor the situation.
“We are in the process of visiting all the affected wards to ensure that we provide emergency aid to the victims,” she said.
“We have not finalised our assessment of the damage, but can estimate that there will be huge costs in respect of the damage to public and private property.”
Mabaso said storm water pipes had become overloaded in parts of Durban, causing stream levels to rise.
“The debris was swept along by the fast-flowing water, accumulating at the face of culverts and grates,” he said.
“This caused the water to back up rapidly at the obstructions, overtopping barriers, bursting stream banks, disrupting traffic and inundating adjacent properties and dwellings.”
In uMlazi’s L section, a blocked storm water drain resulted in a property being flooded, causing damage to household goods, Mabaso said.
In Isipingo, at the Uganda Transit camp, a tree fell on six houses and left 10 people homeless. No one was injured.
In Canelands, oThongathi, four people were injured when a tree fell on their house. One person was taken to the Osindisweni Hospital with a broken leg.
Meanwhile, eThekwini Municipality was providing food and blankets for 75 people affected by the rains.