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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist

No swimming: Durban beaches test positive for harmful bacteria

The KZN floods damaged wastewater treatment plants and sanitation infrastructure

While the recent floods and torrential downpours in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) caused damage to roads, infrastructure and left thousands homeless, it also contaminated Durban’s beaches which have tested positive for harmful bacteria.

Due to this the eThekwini municipality has urged people in the province to not swim in the sea.

eThekwini said the floods significantly damaged the wastewater treatment plants and sanitation infrastructure (sewage network and pump stations) across the municipality, which resulted in sewage polluting many rivers.

“As a result, the beaches remain closed until further notice due to high e-coli levels and the public is advised to avoid all contact with water in the rivers.”

ALSO READ: KZN Floods: Torrential rain storm causes widespread damage and destruction

The municipality said Wastewater Networks and Sanitation Operations have repaired minor sewer infrastructure faults and are fast-tracking the repairs to major sewer infrastructure through the Disaster Procurement Forum.

“In the interests of public health, communities are advised to avoid all contact (swimming, fishing, recreational and sporting activities as well as traditional activities) with water in rivers or streams as this may result in gastroenteritis, diarrhoea, typhoid, cholera, and other waterborne related diseases.”

The municipality has apologised for any inconvenience and assured the public that it is doing everything to fast-track the repairs of the damaged infrastructure.

Meanwhile, at least 87 people are still missing, two months after the devastating April floods that ravaged some parts of KwaZulu-Natal.

ALSO READ: KZN floods: 87 people still missing

The Department of Justice and Correctional Services is being engaged on the process of presumption of death where it is proven that there is no prospects of finding missing people alive.

“This will be used as the last resort to assist families to find closure,” said Premier Sihle Zikalala during a briefing in eThekhwini on Sunday.

He said the floods affected 85,280 people, and 461 died.

“Sadly, we still have 23 unidentified bodies with DNAs not collected. A total of 87 people are still reported missing with 6,895 being homeless and 50 injured. In all, a total of 27,069 households were affected with 8,584 houses totally destroyed and 13,536 partially destroyed.”

Disaster teams, the police and members of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) are still in the province helping search and rescue teams. To date, 249 people have been rescued during their operations.

Zikalala and eThekhwini Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda visited families housed in the 209 temporary residential units built to accommodate flood victims by the provincial department of human settlements and public works.

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