Update: Seven more bodies found after 15 go missing in Jukskei River flash flood
Water levels rose after a storm hit the area during a baptism ceremony on Saturday.
ALEXANDRA, SOUTH AFRICA – FEBRUARY 21: The Stjwetla informal settlement near the Jukskei River on February 21, 2017 in Alexandra. (Photo for illustration only by Gallo Images / Beeld / Felix Dlangamandla)
Seven more bodies were recovered from the Jukskei River on Sunday, after Saturday’s flash floods which swept away a church group who were conducting a baptism ritual in the river.
This brings the total number of deceased to 9, while 6 remain missing.
Johannesburg EMS spokesperson Robert Mulaudzi confirmed the discovery of the seven bodies.
“Today we have managed to recover 7 bodies so far from the 15 bodies which are alleged to have been swept away last night during a Church ritual along Jukskei river stream in Bramley Park,” he told The Citizen.
“Last night 2 bodies were recovered and one person was rescued and transported to the nearest health care facility for further medical care. So far the total number of bodies recovered from last night is 9. The search and recovery operation still continues, and the death toll might still increase.”
Johannesburg Emergency Services spokesperson Robert Mulaudzi told The Citizen on Sunday that police’s water wing, K9 and rescue units were at the scene of the tragedy, as well as the National Sea Rescue Institute, Gauteng emergency services and the city’s aquatic rescue team.
The incident took place just after the Corlett Drive offramp in Bramley Park, Sandton.
He said approximately 33 people from a church in Alexandra were attending a baptism ritual along the stream when a storm caused water levels to rise suddenly.
One woman was rescued, two drowned, and a number of congregants managed to run to safety. 15 people are still missing, Mulaudzi confirmed.
Search efforts, which saw part of Grayston Drive closed, were called off at 10pm on Saturday night.
The help of the local pastor has been requested to get in touch with the congregants not yet accounted for.
Festive season baptisms
“We know that during the festive season there will be a lot of religious ceremonies like baptisms, but water levels are high.
“They must exercise caution, and have safety measures in place when they conduct these rituals,” he emphasised.
Updates on the search efforts will be provided as the story develops.