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Death toll rises to 8 after KZN’s weather-related incidents

The death toll has risen to eight as provincial disaster management teams continue with assessment. Picture: Supplied

The death toll has risen to eight as provincial disaster management teams continue with assessment. Picture: Supplied

Published Oct 24, 2023

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Durban – The death toll in KwaZulu-Natal’s recent weather-related incidents has risen to eight.

This was according to KZN Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) MEC Bongiwe Sithole-Moloi, who said the death toll has risen to eight as provincial disaster management teams continue with assessment.

On Monday, it was reported that the death toll was at six after the discovery of another individual struck by lightning in the Mpofana Local Municipality under the uMgungundlovu District Municipality.

In Mtubatuba, five people, including a 1-year-old, died following a structural collapse under heavy rains and strong winds.

“Our disaster management teams have discovered two additional casualties who succumbed as a result of lightning during the weekend’s severe thunderstorm and lightning strikes accompanied by heavy rainfall in KwaZulu-Natal,” Sithole-Moloi said.

She said the most recent fatalities were reported in Inkosi Langalibalele Local Municipality within the uThukela District and Nquthu Local Municipality in the Umzinyathi District.

“This brings the total number of deaths to eight people, as assessments continue across our province,” Sithole-Moloi said.

“Our latest report indicates that nearly 1 000 households have been assessed, with houses damaged, affecting over 4 000 people. In the health sector, seven health facilities, including two hospitals in eThekwini and Ladysmith, were also impacted. In education, the number of affected schools currently stands at 42, with the majority, 34, located in the uMkhanyakude District. In agriculture, three farming projects, including two broilers and a piggery house, were damaged in Mtubatuba. Additionally, 350 hectares of crops have been affected in the Mtubatuba area.”

Sithole-Moloi also said that following the provincial delegation that was led by Premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube in Mtubatuba on Monday, the government is co-ordinating efforts across all departments and social partners, including the South African Red Cross and the SANDF, to provide assistance with disaster relief and clean-up operations.

She added that disaster management teams are continuing their assessments in all affected districts.

Sithole-Moloi expressed her heartfelt condolences to the families who have lost their loved ones and reaffirmed that officials will reach out to provide support during this challenging period.

“Our teams are concluding their assessments on the ground. Due to the severity of the damages, we have appealed to all municipalities and ward councillors to ensure that every victim is profiled. This will enable us to quantify the damages and determine the required financial assistance from the government. Our honourable premier is also taking a lead role in organising interventions for families who have lost loved ones, including burial arrangements. We are also focused on assisting victims who have suffered property damage and restoring public infrastructure such as schools and health facilities.”

On Monday, eThekwini Municipality mayor Mxolisi Kaunda visited households in Molweni to assess the damage and to facilitate necessary interventions following heavy rains over the weekend.

“There are no fatalities or missing persons recorded. However, according to the preliminary assessment done by disaster management officials, about 239 people were affected by the heavy rainfall with a total of 29 houses destroyed. One injury was reported in Inchanga due to lightning. Families whose homes completely collapsed have opted to be temporarily accommodated by friends and families,” the municipality said.

It said that areas that were mostly affected include Ekukhanyeni, Newtown A, uMlazi, Inchanga, Molweni, and Briardene. Verification of damaged houses is under way and social partners have been activated for immediate humanitarian assistance.

The municipality added that City officials are working tirelessly to bring the situation to normalcy. It will continue with assessments and offering support to those who were affected. Cleaning operations on affected roads are also under way.

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