DURBAN – Twenty three people have died following a violent storm that moved over the eThekwini area on Monday night and continued into Tuesday morning, the provincial Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Department has said.
The announcement was made at a press briefing on Tuesday. The number is expected to rise.
According to Cogta, over 2,000 emergency calls were logged on Monday night.
Several roads in and around the city were also closed due to the storm, with hours-long delays being experienced by motorists since early on Tuesday.
Rescue workers had regrouped in the Malvern area by 9.30am on Tuesday and were busy digging through rubble at a home where four people - two adults and two children - died earlier in the morning.
According to neighbours, another three children could still be trapped under the debris. The house was decimated by a mudslide from a nearby bank.
The rescue workers were joined by throngs of neighbours and community members who offered their assistance.
Rescue efforts at the home were ongoing at the time of publication, with the body of an adult female being recovered just before publication.
According to the city, emergency services were under “massive pressure attending to flood-related life-threatening emergencies”.
“However, this pressure is being exacerbated by people who are insisting on driving and getting themselves into unsafe situations,” said city mayor Zandile Gumede in a statement issued on Tuesday.
“I urge residents not to enter fast flowing streams, both in cars and as pedestrians. Many of our roads are flooded and some of the structures have been damaged. If possible, I would like to advise members of the public to stay off the roads at this stage,” said Gumede.
Several roads in low-lying areas were flooded and residents were urged to use alternative routes, added Gumede.
The flooded and unsafe roads are: Higgins Highway /M1 at Bayview turn off westbound; the M4 Opposite Inkosi Albert Luthuli joining the N2 by the old; airport; N2 Galleria; N2 Prospecton; Bul-Bul Road Chatsworth Bridge had collapsed; Clairwood Sirdar road was also flooded, as were Sarnia road - opposite Bellair SAPS, Mangosuthu Highway in the vicinity of Megacity, Somtseu and Stanger roads and the M25 between Das Road.
Stapleton Road and the M19 before the N2 off-ramp were closed.
African News Agency (ANA)