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Heavy rains kill 10 in Mpumalanga, two people missing after being swept away by floods

In this file picture, people wade through rivers of water as a results of flooding caused by tropical storm Eloise in Limpopo. Screengrab from Reuters video

In this file picture, people wade through rivers of water as a results of flooding caused by tropical storm Eloise in Limpopo. Screengrab from Reuters video

Published Feb 5, 2021

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Johannesburg - Persistent heavy rains and tropical storms have claimed at least 10 lives in Mpumalanga while two people have gone missing after being swept away by floods.

Last week, the South African Weather Service issued a red level 10 warning for the province, stating that predicted heavy rains would put serious strain on the province’s emergency services.

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Forecaster Lulama Pheme warned that lives could be lost if residents were not cautious.

“The threshold for heavy rain is 50mm but we were expecting 100 to 300mm.”

Most of the fatalities were drownings as a result of flooded rivers.

Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), spokesperson George Mthethwa, said the victims were from different municipalities in the province.

“We have some in the city of Mbombela, Kanyamazane, Chief Albert Luthuli and so on. What we have established so far is that most of them were trying to cross rivers and they could not make it to the other end.”

Mthethwa said the department was distraught to learn that one of the victims was a 1-year-old from Elukwatini.

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“We found it very heartbreaking that this child was carried by her mother who was trying to cross the local river.” The mother also drowned.

Mthethwa said a 15-year-old boy in Hazyview also lost his life while trying to cross a river. The community played a key role in assisting police search and rescue teams in recovering his body.

On Sunday, a 15-year-old boy in Driehoek, in Mkhondo Municipality, was reported missing. He had tried to cross a local dam.

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The province’s Cogta department remains on high alert and through the provincial Disaster Management Centre, has provided temporary shelter and relief material such as tarpaulins, mattresses and food parcels.

Mthethwa warned residents against attempting to cross flooded rivers. He also advised people not to build their homes and businesses in hazardous areas.

Premier Refilwe Mtshweni-Tsipane conveyed her condolences to the families of the flood victims.

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“As the provincial government, we are saddened by the passing of our people through this natural disaster. To the families of those who have departed we say sikhala nani, akuhlanga lungehliyo (condolences),” she said.

“We appeal to the people of Mpumalanga to continue to practice caution and vigilance when travelling on our roads. We further urge the people of Mpumalanga to please report emergency cases,” she said.

The Star

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