Violent storms cause death, mayhem

2012-12-12 00:00

VIOLENT storms over the past two days have caused widespread destruction across KwaZulu-Natal and at least 15 deaths.

A Transnet goods train, carrying timber from Bayhead to Umkomaas, derailed into the Amanzimtoti river at about 4 am yesterday morning when the swollen river undermined the track.

Two drivers and two assistants on board suffered slight injuries.

It is still unclear whether any diesel fuel leaked at the scene.

Transnet Freight Rail spokesperson Sandile Simelane said the line would be closed for repairs.

Following this incident, MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Nomsa Dube called an urgent meeting in Durban’s eThekwini disaster management centre to provide an update on the impact of the storms that have swept through the province.

In uMlazi, two bodies were recovered in Megavillage; in Chatsworth, a shack collapsed and killed six people and two other people died in kwaDabeka and uMzinto.

People had to be evacuated from their homes in Ntuzuma, Lindelani and Dassenhoek. They are staying at community halls, said Dube. She said that other reported deaths had not yet been verified, so the death toll would rise.

At uMzinto, police reported two people drowned, one struck by lightning, and an adult and a child swept away.

Altogether, 26 people were rescued on the upper South Coast, which had 50 mm of rain in just an hour on Monday night, and a total of 200 mm in about 24 hours. In one incident, six children were trapped on a sandbank in a flooded river near Mistake Farm.

“The damage will escalate to tens of millions of rands. We do not at this stage have the accurate figure, but once all the emergency relief and rescue efforts have been conducted we will commence with the process of quantifying the damage,” Dube said.

In one of the more dramatic scenes, nine homeless people were winched to safety from the flooded Umbilo river in Durban yesterday morning.

They were sleeping under the M4 bridge when the water level rose and trapped them, Netcare 911 spokesperson Chris Botha said.

National Sea Rescue Institute spokesperson Craig Lambinon said that their rescue team responded to a call in ­kwaMashu, where some vehicles were swept down the flooded Umhlangane river.

“They had scrambled up scaffolding … on a construction site after abandoning their vehicle on the flooded bridge. All three were safely rescue by the SAPS Search and Rescue Squad,” he said.

Wet road conditions also claimed three lives, including a 13-year-old girl killed when a bakkie overturned on the P601 near Kokstad. A truck driver was killed after he lost control of his truck and overturned near Estcourt.

On the N3 south bound, one person was killed and 10 injured in a collision involving 11 vehicles near Shongweni.

The accident caused extensive delays on the freeway, lasting up to two hours as three lanes had to be closed.

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