Durban – The death toll as a result of inclement weather in KwaZulu-Natal has risen to 40, with five people still missing.
That was according to KZN Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) spokesperson Siboniso Mngadi, who said KZN Provincial Disaster Management provided an update on the death toll recorded in December and January as a result of inclement weather.
“As our teams continue with assessments, the number of people who have tragically passed away has increased to 40, with five still reported as missing. These numbers have increased as our teams continue with an assessment while the inclement weather persists in various parts of the province,” Mngadi said.
In recent incidents, he said three drownings were reported in the Harry Gwala District, while two farmworkers were struck by lightning in Bergville.
“We would also like to confirm that two people have been discovered by the search and rescue teams in Ladysmith. However, their identities are pending confirmation through DNA if they match with the ones reported missing,” Mngadi said.
He said the rain also left 74 people injured. Some were transported to hospitals, while others were treated on the scene. About 800 households suffered damage, with a total of 247 dwellings being destroyed. This left 47 people homeless, while more than 4 000 people were affected.
KZN Cogta MEC Bongiwe Sithole-Moloi conveyed her condolences to the bereaved families.
She said the department had been in contact with all those affected and was providing necessary support as part of its disaster relief efforts, working together with its social partners.
Sithole-Moloi said they appreciated the commitment shown by the rescue team led by the SAPS K9 Unit with the support of the Al-Imdaad Foundation for Disaster, the South African Red Cross and IPSS Medical Rescue who made it possible to recover most people reported missing.
“We would like to commend our search and rescue teams, who continue to work tirelessly on the ground to locate those reported missing. While the loss of loved ones is a painful experience, we find solace in the closure that comes when search and rescue teams recover the remains of those who were missing.
“Some families have already laid their loved ones to rest, and as a department we have been by their side, providing support. We also wish a speedy recovery to those who have been injured,” she said.
Sithole-Moloi added that as heavy rains were expected to persist, they strongly advised community members to remain extra-vigilant during periods of rainfall. Those who were driving should exercise caution and should never attempt to cross swollen rivers, she said.
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