President Cyril Ramaphosa lays a wreath at the debris of a house where eight bodies, including children, were retrieved in Chatsworth near Durban. Picture: Rogan Ward/Reuters/African News Agency (ANA)

Durban – The death toll from a devastating storm that hit KwaZulu-Natal on Monday night and continued into Tuesday morning has risen to 70, the province’s acting premier has said.

Sihle Zikalala made the announcement at a media briefing on Thursday morning, according to broadcaster eNCA. 

The death toll is expected to rise as rescue teams are still continuing with search operations.

The first priority of the provincial government is clean-up operations in the most affected areas and ensuring dignified burials for the dead.

eThekwini (Durban and surrounds), King Chetswayo (Richards Bay and surrounds), Ugu (South Coast and surrounds) and Harry Gwala (uMzimkhulu and surrounds) were severely affected by the storm.

President Cyril Ramaphosa was in the province on Wednesday and said that national Treasury had approved funds for KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape, which was also hit with heavy rains and flooding.

Four deaths have been reported thus far in the Eastern Cape.

The KwaZulu-Natal department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs said it would release a comprehensive statement on planned interventions later in the day.

African News Agency/ANA