KwaZulu-Natal Premier Willies Mchunu has declared Thursday as the provincial day of mourning and prayer. Picture: Bongani Mbatha / Africa News Agency (ANA)

Durban - KwaZulu-Natal Premier Willies Mchunu has declared Thursday as the provincial day of mourning and prayer, adding that the death toll has risen to 69 as more bodies continue to be recovered following deadly floods last week in Durban and surrounds.

The floods destroyed houses, roads and other bulk infrastructure, and killed many people in various communities in the eThekwini, Ilembe, Ugu and King Cetshwayo municipalities.

Speaking at a media briefing on Monday, Mchunu said the Provincial Executive Council convened a special meeting on Friday where it received reports on the impact of this latest disaster, while assessments continue to be done on the damage to lives and properties caused by the flooding and mudslides.

Mchunu said government was doing everything necessary to provide urgent assistance to the victims and affected families, and that the provincial executive council has also resolved to assist all the families with resources to bury their loved ones.

"The KwaZulu-Natal Cabinet at its specially convened [meeting] resolved to seek for the classification of the provincial state of disaster.  We requested national government to invoke section 41 of the Disaster Management Act No.57 because the Province alone cannot cope with these incidents," Mchunu said.

"Also, as a mark of respect to honour our fallen compatriots, the Provincial Executive Council has resolved to declare Thursday, 3 May 2019, as the Provincial Day of Prayer and Mourning to show solidarity with the bereaved families and to pray for those who have passed away as well as for an end to these tragedies in our province. We invite all citizens, inter-faith formations and all sectors of society to participate in this important day of prayer and mourning."

The main event for the provincial day of prayer and mourning will take place at Curries Fountain Sports Field on Thursday from 9am.

Mchunu said that after being briefed by the department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta), the death toll at this point has increased to 69, as on Sunday one more body of a young male was recovered in eTshelimnyama near Marianhill. 

"A total of 64 of those who passed away are from the eThekwini metro and 5 from the Ugu district. A total of 1 469 people found themselves displaced by the floods and had to be provided with temporary accommodation in community halls and by their neighbours and relatives," Mchunu said.

"Over 50 people were injured and had to be treated in hospital. We continue to search for the two citizens that are still missing. Our search and rescue is still continuing in this regard."

Mchunu also said the floods had caused damage estimated to run well over R1 billion.

"This disaster also caused massive damage to infrastructure, both public and private. Railways, roads, houses full of furniture and personal possession were damaged and sometimes destroyed entirely. The estimated damage currently stands at R1,1billion with the Ethekwini damage alone estimated at over R685-million," Mchunu said.

"We have recorded a total of 235 damaged private homes in eThekwini and this figure continues to rise as new homes are being added to the list. Many families have been rendered homeless. In addition to displacement, many people’s lives were interrupted by power outages, the majority of which have been attended to."

African News Agency (ANA)