Limpopo flood rescue resumes as hundreds remain stranded

2013-01-21 11:19

Operations resumed this morning to rescue people left stranded when the Limpopo river burst its banks.

“The choppers were trying to help yesterday, but had to stop at night. Forty-five people out of 334 people were rescued,” provincial co-operative governance department spokesperson Dieketseng Diale said.

“The rescue operations resumed today.”

Residents were stranded when they sought refuge on rooftops and mountains.

Diale could not immediately confirm reports that four people drowned when they were swept away by the strong currents yesterday.

The extent of the damage was still being assessed.

“A lot of houses have been damaged, but there is no way to give a figure because certain areas are still inaccessible.”

Provincial health and social development MEC Norman Mabasa was expected to visit the Musina hospital and flood victims this morning.

“Such disasters weigh heavily on the response of our health services, so we are visiting Musina to ensure that everything is running smoothly as it should and [the hospital] is able to accommodate the flood victims,” he said.

The SA Weather Service said more rain was expected in Limpopo and Mpumalanga today.

“There is a warning for heavy falls in Mpumalanga and Limpopo for today, but it will improve later in the afternoon,” forecaster William Msianga said.

No rain was expected in the rest of country until Thursday.

In Mpumalanga, gravel roads and some camps inside the Kruger National Park (KNP) remained closed today because of heavy rains.

“Several camps and gravel roads have been closed since Saturday and remain closed. It is still raining heavily ... We are told that the rain is expected to stop on Wednesday,” said KNP spokesperson Ike Phaahla.

Three children were killed when their homes collapsed during rain in Limpopo over the weekend, a spokesperson said yesterday.

Vhembe district municipality spokesperson Matodzi Mulaudzi said the municipality’s disaster management team received reports about the deaths of two boys and a girl yesterday morning.

Mpumalanga police spokesperson Colonel Leonard Hlathi said three people were killed when lightning struck their houses in Piet Retief during thunderstorms on Saturday morning.

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