PMB man joins Malawi rescue

2015-01-21 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG paramedic Paul ­Knoesen has been deployed to flood-ravaged ­regions of Malawi as part of a hand-picked South African rescue team.

Knoesen was selected to join Rescue South Africa’s team of 30, comprising paramedics, doctors and rescue technicians.

Two hundred people have been killed in ­Malawi and a further 110 000 people have been displaced.

With extensive rescue and medical training under his belt and years of experience, Knoesen is the only paramedic from KwaZulu-Natal to join the team.

Speaking to The Witness, he said that the ­deployment was his “biggest operation yet”.

“This is my first operation with Rescue South Africa. They deal with major disasters around the globe and are extremely well-known,” he said. “I am honoured and privileged to have been asked to join their team.”

With 15 of Malawi’s 28 regions affected by the floods, Knoesen said the situation was dire but the team were “highly specialised and experienced, and dedicated to saving lives”.

Rescue South Africa director Ian Scher said the carefully selected team were fully equipped to deal with whatever situation they were thrown into.

“Those chosen are the cream of the crop, highly skilled and the heart of Rescue South ­Africa. We have bought enough equipment and supplies for two weeks, and are in constant ­contact with Malawi’s disaster management who will deploy us to affected areas upon arrival,” he said.

He added that the deployment to Malawi was purely voluntary.

As the flood destroyed thousands of homes and lives in Malawi, Mozambique has also been severely affected by widespread flooding.

While the crack team jet into Malawi, the South African National Defence Force has been deployed to Mozambique to assist with rescues.

Gift of the Givers founder Dr Imtiaz ­Sooliman received a letter from the foundation’s Malawian office manager, Gaffar Jakhura, who requested immediate assistance.

“Our Meteorological Services and Climate Change Management Department forecasts a continuation of the rainfall for a few more days to come, while most parts of the Southern ­Region, especially the Shire Valley, is completely inundated with flood waters.

“The calamity has led to our state president declaring a state of national disaster, in which he is appealing for relief aid from both local and international humanitarian organisations,” said Jakhura.

Gift of the Givers supplied victims of the flood with food items, blankets, plastic sheeting for erecting temporary shelters and cooking utensils.


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