Four people missing as flash floods rock Durban, KZN north coast

Heavy rains battered the KZN North Coast on Sunday night. Picture: IPSS Medical Rescue

Heavy rains battered the KZN North Coast on Sunday night. Picture: IPSS Medical Rescue

Published Jan 14, 2024


Emergency workers have been working throughout the night after heavy rainfall caused flash floods in KwaZulu-Natal, which led to a trail of destruction in certain parts of northern Durban and the north coast.

By Sunday morning, four people were reported missing while one emergency service unit said they responded to 157 calls for help mostly in the Verulam, Phoenix and Tongaat areas in northern Durban.

Speaking about the destruction, Samantha Meyrick, a spokesperson from IPSS Medical Search and Rescue, said they were searching for four people who were reported missing.

“Heavy rains caused flash floods and rivers to burst their banks throughout the KZN North Coast.

“As communities take stock of the damage, 4 people have been reported as missing by their families.

“Two people have gone missing from their home in Tongaat, and a further two have gone missing while attempting to cross rivers in Groutville and Maphumulo.”

Meyrick said Umhali SAPS K9 Search & Rescue and IPSS Search & Rescue will be responding to the various areas, however as the rivers remain at dangerous levels, this will hamper efforts by rescuers.

She said they also responded to calls for help for people trapped in houses and cars.

A flooded bridge in La Lucia. Picture: Emer-G-Med Paramedics

“A river running through the Tongaat CBD flooded, leaving two people stuck in a tree and a third person stuck on a wall surrounded by rapidly rising water.

“The three people were brought to safety by members and were found to have not sustained any serious injuries.”

Meyrick said fortunately no fatalities were reported.

Emer-G-Med paramedics said they had their hands full across the greater eThekwini region after a deluge of rain fell.

“Multiple calls came in through various support networks for localised flooding, structural collapses and residents stuck in their homes,” said spokesperson Kyle Van Reenan.

“Resources worked their way through to assist those in need and no fatalities were reported.”

He said at around 11pm, paramedics responded to a serious motor vehicle collision on the M4 Ruth First Highway near the Virginia Airport.

The crash on the M4. Picture: Emer-G-Med

“Six people were treated for moderate injuries and taken by ambulances to nearby hospitals for further medical care.”

Prem Balram, a spokesperson for the Reaction Unit South Africa (Rusa), said their control rooms received over 150 calls for assistance.

He said they responded to the Phoenix, Verulam, and Tongaat since 10pm on Saturday.

“These call outs were requests for rescue, medical assistance and damage to property relating to flash flooding on the KZN north coast.”

Balram said several residents were evacuated after homes were flooded.

“Reaction Officers rescued dozens of families and animals and transported them to the Rusa headquarters. Arrangements are being made to have them relocated.

“Hundreds of homes, roads and bridges have been damaged.”

He said several residential roads have been closed off due to extensive damages.

Balram said two Reaction Officers were injured during the Rescue Operations.

According to the KZN Provincial Disaster Management Centre over 40 people lost their lives in the province in December and January due to inclement weather.

The Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs said on Saturday disaster teams discovered a car under the bridge on N11, with three people confirmed deceased.

“It is suspected that this car went missing on December 31, from Bergville. Further investigations into this matter are currently under way,” said spokesperson Siboniso Mngadi.

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