Couple, baby climb tree to flee floods

2013-01-23 09:01
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Flooding in the Lowveld

As Mpumalanga and Limpopo experience high rainfall, entire towns have been affected by extensive flooding. See the pictures.

Polokwane - A couple and their 3-week-old baby spent a whole day in a tree after they were trapped by rising floodwaters in Limpopo.

Xander Mokwena, 43, his wife Sakhile Tlou, 33, and baby Hawelo saw the water rising at their home on a farm near Pontdrift on Sunday, reported Volksblad.

When the water started flooding their home and reached hip height, Mokwena knew they had to flee.

"We ran away from the water and climbed in a tree,” he said. “We sat in the tree for a day before the helicopters came to rescue us. The baby didn’t cry. She just slept peacefully.”

About 60 farmworkers were airlifted to safety from the farm. Some of them had climbed trees and farm implements, while others fled to nearby mountains. Cattle and goats were swept away, and they were nervous of hippos, he said.

10 deaths

At least 10 people have died in the Limpopo floods since last week and large parts of the province are still cut off from the outside world.

Co-operative governance, human settlements and traditional affairs department spokesperson Dieketseng Diale told Beeld that rescue services were searching for the bodies of two children in the Musina area, while six people had died in the Vhembe district and four in the Mopani district.

Air force and emergency service helicopters were being used to rescue people from some settlements. Limpopo emergency services have rescued more than 300 people from flooded areas since Tuesday.

Meanwhile, around 95 people have been rescued from the Kruger National Park. 

Border posts with Zimbabwe and Botswana are also closed.

AgriSA's Theo de Jager, who has a farm in the Tzaneen district, said the flood damage is severe, but not as bad as the floods in 2000, when the rainfall was about 300mm more.

The rain has stopped and dry weather is forecast for the next two days.

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