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Inanda community waits at river for bodies of family members to float downstream in wake of KZN floods

As Inanda residents wait at the edge of a river in the uMzinyathi area in the hopes of recovering the bodies of their family members following the recent floods, several search and rescue operations are under way across KZN.

The Inanda community waits at the edge of a river in the uMzinyathi area in the hopes of recovering the bodies of their family members following the recent floods. Picture: Gift of the Givers

Published Apr 17, 2022

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DURBAN - Gift of the Givers discovered community members in the uMzinyathi area of Inanda on Saturday waiting downstream at a river to recover the bodies of their missing family members following the recent floods in KwaZulu-Natal.

In a statement on Facebook, the relief organisation said that this incident, as well as several messages received about missing people, have highlighted the need to send in large numbers of teams for search and recovery.

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The organisation said its teams found the community members waiting at the edge of the river.

“When asked what they were doing, they said ‘We are waiting for the bodies of our family members to float downstream to recover them’,” said the organisation.

The Gift of the Givers said search and recovery operations are dependent on public participation and its teams being alerted to the possible locations where individuals were washed away or buried under rubble.

Reaction Unit South Africa (Rusa) are a part of the search and rescue operation in Inanda.

Just before 2pm on Sunday the security company’s helicopter crew lifted off from the helipad at the company’s headquarters to conduct a search in the uMzinyathi area of Inanda.

“The helicopter will be used to locate the bodies of 10 people who have drowned and not been recovered. Four bodies of the 14 that were swept away were recovered,” said Rusa

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According to Rusa, poor visibility and rain is hampering the use of the helicopter in operations.

Also on Saturday, National SAPS Commissioner, General Fannie Masemola, arrived in the province to assess the SAPS response to the KZN floods.

Masemola together with the Divisional Commissioner of Visible Policing and Operations, Lieutenant-General Michael Mohlala, were briefed by provincial police commissioner, Lieutenant-General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi.

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“The SAPS Airwing as well as Search and Rescue teams are part of government’s co-ordinated and concerted efforts to rescue and recover victims of the KZN floods,” said SAPS in a statement on Saturday.

According to police the delegation is expected to visit ongoing operations to assess the SAPS response.

On Sunday, Lifesaving South Africa appealed to the public to stay away from the beaches as life guards are part of the search and rescue teams.

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“KZN and Durban beaches are closed until further notice. Please stay away from the beaches as we help with search and rescue efforts from the floods. Please do not attempt to swim in rivers or the ocean at present, today [Sunday] we have had five rescues south of Toti which is putting everyone’s lives at risk including the lifeguards.”

In a statement yesterday, Netcare 911 said Durban's Virginia Airport has become the heartbeat of the rescue operations.

Netcare spokesperson Shawn Herbst said helicopters and support personnel from the South African Air Force, South African Police Services Air Wing, Fidelity-ADT, Netcare 911, Red Cross Air Mercy Services, Transnet Ports Authority and private helicopters from Legend Aviation, KZN Aviation and others sprung into action.

Herbst said teams received air traffic and navigation services guidance at King Shaka International Airport and Air Traffic Control at Virginia airport.

“At Netcare 911 we are proud of all our staff, as with all other emergency services, volunteers and NGOs who were risking their own lives to help those who could be saved and bringing closure to the families of those victims who could not be saved.

“To the search and rescue teams from all over South Africa that descended on Durban and will spend the next few weeks digging through unforgiving terrain, our hearts are with you,” said Netcare 911.

The KZN Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs said Advanced Search and Rescue teams are continuing with their operations aimed at locating those who are missing as a result of the floods.

Specialised Urban Search and Rescue teams conducting operations in disaster hit areas in Durban. Picture: KZN Cogta

Specialised Urban Search and Rescue teams conducting operations in disaster hit areas in Durban. Picture: KZN Cogta

Specialised Urban Search and Rescue teams conducting operations in disaster hit areas in Durban. Picture: KZN Cogta

THE MERCURY

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