KZN weather-related death toll rises to 40

More than 4 000 people have been affected by heavy rain that has been falling in the province since December.

The death toll due to the inclement weather during December and January in KZN has increased to 40, with five people still missing.

The KZN Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) reported a rise in numbers as their teams continue with assessments amid ongoing inclement weather across various parts of the province.

Twenty-three bodies were recovered by search-and-rescue teams following flash floods in Ladysmith on Christmas Eve. In Bergville two farmworkers were recently struck by lightning.

Cogta spokesperson Siboniso Mngadi said the rains have also left 74 people injured. Some were transported to hospitals, while others were treated on the scene. About 800 households suffered damages, with a total of 247 dwellings completely destroyed.

This left 47 people homeless, and over 4 000 people have been affected, said Mngadi. The department said it has been in contact with all those affected and is providing necessary support as part of its disaster relief efforts, working with its social partners.

Cogta MEC Bongiwe Sithole-Moloi said: “We appreciate the commitment shown by the rescue teams led by the SAPS K9 Unit with the support of Al-Imdaad Foundation for Disaster, South African Red Cross and IPSS Medical Rescue, who made it possible to recover most of the people reported missing.

“We would like to commend our search-and-rescue teams, who continue to work tirelessly on the ground to locate those reported missing. While the loss of loved ones is a painful experience, we find solace in the closure that comes when search-and-rescue teams recover the remains of those who were missing.

“Some families have already laid their loved ones to rest, and as a department, we have been by their side, providing support. We also wish a speedy recovery to those who have been injured.”

She said community members should remain extra vigilant during rainstorms. “Those who are driving should exercise caution and never attempt to cross swollen rivers.”

Meanwhile, at least three people have drowned at beaches on the north and south coasts this weekend. The North Coast Courier reported on two cases in which a 25-year-old man and 16-year-old boy died in separate drowning incidents.

The 25-year-old man drowned while swimming in the ocean at around 16:00 at Westbrook main beach near Ballito. His body is yet to be recovered while the 16-year-old boy, from Tongaat, drowned while enjoying the beach with his aunt and uncle.

The third incident happened at Inyoni Rocks in Amanzimtoti, the South Coast Sun reported. Despite extensive efforts from both lifeguards and life support personnel, a 35-year-old man was declared dead after drowning at Amanzimtoti’s Inyoni Rocks pool.

In a separate incident, on New Year’s Day, two Pietermaritzburg cousins drowned at Pirate’s Beach.

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