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KZN braces for the effects of Irina

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IOL pic mar5 cyclone irina

Associated Press

A boy shields himself from gale-force winds as he makes his way along the seafront in Maputo, Mozambique. Cyclone Irina has caused heavy rain in the country, and in South Africa, where the province of KwaZulu-Natal has already experienced storm surges and extremely wet weather.

Johannesburg - Cyclone Irina remains a threat to the KwaZulu-Natal coast, police and disaster services officials said on Sunday.

The weather system was likely to remain over open water between Maputo and Richards Bay for the next 24 hours, according to the National Joint Operational Centre.

“A combination of very rough seas, marine storm surges, as well as gale-force winds are likely to threaten the coastline during this time,” said police spokesperson Colonel Vishnu Naidoo.

Commercial and recreational fishing should be alerted to this threat, he said. He said the likelihood of further heavy rain was diminishing.

The National Joint Operational Centre is co-ordinating the response to the storm.

It includes police, the South African Weather Service, disaster management, the army, and government departments such as health.

Provincial structures have been established to monitor the situation on a 24-hour basis, to direct resources to affected areas.

The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal commended the provincial government for its co-ordinated response to the storm.

“The KwaZulu-Natal government has done a sterling job by putting all systems in place to swiftly respond to the cyclone. We have no doubt that these measures have helped to save many lives,” said ANC spokesperson Sihle Zikalala.

“Our hearts go to all people who have been affected by the cyclone. We have been informed that many people have had their homes destroyed by the cyclone. We urge our people to on the alert to prevent fatalities,” Zikalala said.

The ANC commended government for providing relief to people affected by the cyclone, including transport for schoolchildren and food.

A house collapsed on a woman, breaking both her legs, in Jozini in the Nyawushadi area on Sunday morning, after floods hit northern KwaZulu-Natal.

Co-operative governance spokesperson Vernon Mchunu said emergency services personnel were negotiating through mud and dirt in a bid to reach Phumaphi Makhaye, 56.

Mchunu could not give figures of families that were displaced and people who were injured as disaster teams were still quantifying the damage. He estimated that about 300 houses had been flooded.

On Saturday, the South African Weather Service reported that Tropical Storm Irina would result in heavy falls of rain over the extreme southern parts of Mozambique, Swaziland, Mpumalanga and the east coast of South Africa, which would create the risk of flooding.

“Very rough seas with wave heights in excess of four to six metres are also expected from Richards Bay to Maputo,” said South African Weather Services spokesperson Hannelee Doubell.

Rescue operations were under way in various parts of the northern coastal parts of the province of KwaZulu-Natal.

“At the moment we are hard at work assisting people whose houses have been flooded. Moves are being made to also evacuate others to safety,” said Co-operative Governance MEC Nomusa Dube.

Dube said the provincial government was in the process of organising temporary housing units for displaced families. - Sapa

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