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Tuesday, August 16, 2022

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400 out of 10 000 troops deployed to KZN after deadly floods

Members of the South African National Defence Force prepare to travel from the old Virginia airport in Durban with search and rescue services to provide protection. Picture: Guillem Sartorio/AFP

Members of the South African National Defence Force prepare to travel from the old Virginia airport in Durban with search and rescue services to provide protection. Picture: Guillem Sartorio/AFP

Published Apr 20, 2022

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Durban- The military has so far deployed 400 of the 10 000 troops earmarked for emergency, relief and reconstruction operations in the flood-stricken eastern region, a senior army officer said Wednesday.

Torrential rains last week triggered record floods and mudslides tearing through the eastern coastal parts of the country, killing nearly 450 lives and ripping apart roads, water pipes and thousands of homes.

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"Currently we have 400 troops on the ground but the rest of the 10 000 are still coming. This is just an advance (team)," a senior officer Brigadier General Andres Mahapa, told reporters.

Joint civilian and military search teams are still recovering bodies from the debris more than a week after the disaster struck.

"We are still digging out dead bodies," said Mahapa.

But "we are also going to assist with establishing temporary bridges while we are trying to fix the bridges after the mop up," he added.

The army is bringing in electricians, artisans and doctors.

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Mahapa said the focus would now be on clearing roads to allow the movement of goods and transport.

Picture: Guillem Sartorio/AFP

Several areas are still inaccessible - hampering delivery of relief aid - after bridges and roads cracked under the weight of the worst floods to have hit the country in living memory.

Major General Sandile Hlongwa, who is commanding the joint operations, said while the country was "prepared" for a disaster, the extent of the devastation had come as "a shock" with unprecedented destruction.

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Referring to the powerful mudslides, he said "we have never had that before".

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