Five die in KZN storms
Jonathan Erasmus, Zululand Fever
Richards Bay - Although cyclone Irina is not expected to hit the coastline of Northern KwaZulu-Natal head-on as previously predicted, the heavy rainfall and gale force winds have left at least five people dead and scores of homes flooded or destroyed.
In the uMkhanyakude District, KwaZulu-Natal's most northern coastal district, four people are presumed to have drowned in the Hlabisa and Mtubatuba local municipalities although, according to the province's department of co-operative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta), the deaths have yet to be confirmed.
Cogta spokesperson Vernon Mchunu said the SAPS are currently searching for the bodies.
“One of them drowned while trying to cross the Wela River at Nhlwathi area in the Hlabisa Municipality the other three drowned at Enkovukeni River in the Shikishela area within the Mtubatuba municipality.
"Fortunately, divers who had been put on standby as part of the joint rescue operations plan, are currently scouring the rivers for bodies,” said Mchunu.
A 24-year old student from eThekwini Metro died after a wall collapsed on her.
According to Cogta by Sunday evening nearly 40 houses in KwaZulu-Natal were reported to have been either partially or completely damaged.
Within the uThungulu District, which incorporates Richards Bay, four houses were destroyed while at least 20 homesteads have been submerged.
Richards Bay has limited access to its beach and piers.
In the uMkhanyakude District a home near Jozini collapsed on a 56 year-old woman, breaking both her legs.
Mchunu said in the Zululand District five homes were damaged in Ulundi and Nongoma, while in the Ilembe District only one household with eight residents was damaged thus far.
The eThekwini Municipality closed the N2 highway near Prospection on Sunday afternoon due to flooding and on Sunday morning they closed the beaches.
In Umlazi and Chatsworth two children were injured when parts of their homes collapsed.
Vehicle accidents have been reported in the Ugu, Zululand and uThungulu districts, claiming two lives.
Motorists driving on the N2 between Durban and Pongola are asked to drive with caution with at least 13 minor accidents already reported, largely due to aquaplaning.
Approximately 400 traffic officers have been deployed throughout the province with at least 85 officers in Richards Bay and 70 in Durban on standby.
Soup kitchens have been set up in both the uThungulu and uMkhanyakude districts.
The SAPS has placed all search and rescue teams within the province on standby while the SANDF is prepared to deploy eight helicopters and ground vehicles if necessary.
KwaZulu-Natal's disaster management centre told the Zululand Fever that they are in constant contact with the affected district disaster management centres every 30 minutes.