File photo: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency(ANA).

DURBAN - Municipal officials will be applying to have the storm ravaged KwaZulu-Natal South Coast declared a disaster area.

Representatives of the Ugu District Municipality met the provincial cabinet on Wednesday to brief them on the loss of life and damage caused by Monday's storm, said Ugu spokesman France Zama.

He said there had been a "considerable number" of deaths in the district, which covers the South Coast from Scottburgh to Port Edward and inland, including Harding. 

Officials were still tallying the extent of the damage and trying to reach an accurate count of people left dead, hurt or homeless, said Zama. 

Once these numbers had been established, a "conclusive report" would be sent to the provincial government in order to seek disaster relief in the form of money and other resources.

Zama said the greatest damage occurred on the coast, where most infrastructure was located. This included the municipality's main water pump station at Port Shepstone, in addition to three smaller pump stations elsewhere in the district.

He said it was not yet clear which areas were without potable water.

"In those areas we can't deploy technicians because the roads are very bad. [Wednesday] was the first day which has been clear," said Zama.

He said there had been serious damage to roads and some bridges had been washed away; "I personally can't get home," he told African News Agency (ANA). But he could not immediately provide details or put a price to the damage.

He said there had been considerable infrastructure damage in Umzumbe and in Umdoni many had been left homeless. The two local municipalities are to the south of the district.

The destitute in Umdoni were being sheltered in municipal halls and buildings and had been provided with food and blankets. A charitable organisation, who Zama declined to name, had helped but more aid was needed.

"We call for good samaritans to come forward and assist… it's a sad situation," he said.

Meanwhile, the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) had its hands full assisting with flood incidents on the South Coast.

The NSRI said on Wednesday that it had assisted with people and animals swept away by floods, rescuing trapped residents, evacuating flooded structures - business and residential - vehicle entrapments and vehicles swept away by floods and swollen rivers.

Craig Lambinon, NSRI spokesman, said in a statement that they attended to about 31 incidents with other emergency services.   

African News Agency (ANA)