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South Africa floods: deadliest storm on record kills over 300 people

  The death toll from devastating floods in and around the South African port city of Durban has risen to 306, the government s...


The death toll from devastating floods in and around the South African port city of Durban has risen to 306, the government said Wednesday, after roads and hillsides were washed away as homes collapsed.

The heaviest rains in 60 years pummelled Durban’s municipality, eThekwini in Zulu. According to an AFP tally, the storm is the deadliest on record in South Africa.

“By the evening of 13 April, we have been informed that the death toll from the floods disaster in KZN (KwaZulu-Natal) province has risen to 306 people,” Nonala Ndlovu, spokeswoman for the provincial disaster management department, said. Her office said the death toll was “one of the darkest moments in the history” of KZN.

The South African president, Cyril Ramaphosa, has described the floods as a “catastrophe” and a “calamity”.

“Bridges have collapsed. Roads have collapsed. People have died … This is a catastrophe of enormous proportions,” he said, addressing a local community after inspecting the damage from the floods.

The search for missing persons is still going on, said Ramaphosa, promising to “spare nothing” in dealing with the disaster.

“This disaster is part of climate change. We no longer can postpone what we need to do … to deal with climate change. It is here, and our disaster management capability needs to be at a higher level.”

Earlier the provincial health chief Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu had expressed concern about the huge death toll, telling eNCA television that “mortuaries are under a bit of pressure … however, we are coping”.

The United Methodist Church in the township of Clermont was reduced to a pile of rubble. Four children from a local family died when a wall collapsed on them.

Other homes hung precariously to the hillside, miraculously still intact after much of the ground underneath them was washed away in mudslides.

The storm forced sub-Saharan Africa’s most important port to halt operations, as a main access road suffered heavy damage. Shipping containers were tossed about, washed into mountains of metal.

Sections of other roads were washed away, leaving behind gashes in the earth bigger than large trucks.

“We see such tragedies hitting other countries like Mozambique, Zimbabwe, but now we are the affected ones,” Ramaphosa said as he met grieving families near the ruins of the church.

South Africa’s neighbours suffer such natural disasters from tropical storms almost every year, but Africa’s most industrialised country is largely shielded from the storms that form over the Indian Ocean.

with information from

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