Irina deaths, damage less than thought

2012-03-06 10:34

Durban residents evacuated

2012-03-05 08:36

Residents of Durban's Quarry Heights in Sydenham have been evacuated after the Palmiet River overflowed its banks while heavy rains in northern KwaZulu-Natal have left at least five people dead. WATCH

Durban - Three of the four people feared drowned in northern KwaZulu-Natal because of this weekend’s tropical storm, are very much alive, authorities said on Monday.

One person, however, remains missing.

Dumisani Mthenjwa, an official with the uMkhanyakude District Disaster Management Centre in Mkuze said a helicopter was requested to assist in the search for the man.

But rescue officials on Monday breathed a sigh of relief confirming that there was less damage than expected, after initial warnings that Cyclone Irina would wreak havoc in KwaZulu-Natal.

Police spokesperson Vish Naidoo said that although Irina was intense, the damage was not as excessive as previously thought.

May return

Over the weekend it was downgraded from a cyclone to a moderate tropical storm before heading back into the Indian Ocean.

“We thought that the storm would move more inland, and if it had done so, the damage would have been worse,” he said.

Weather forecaster with the South African Weather Service Stacy Colbourne said KZN could still expect gale force winds and high swells until Wednesday morning as Irina moved further out to sea.

“Swells of between four to five metres in Durban and six metres up the North Coast are being caused by the tropical storm,” she said.

Colbourne added that a cold front was making its way towards KZN, which would be a buffer against Irina but would bring its own strong winds and rain. “But nothing like what Irina offered,” she said.

However, once the cold front left, Irina could return, possibly on Saturday, the Weather Service said.

In its reaction, Cogta said disaster centres would remain on high alert.

Off the beaches on Monday, reduced shark prevention remained in place, after the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board removed drumlines and nets ahead of the storm.

Operations manager Mike Anderson-Reade expected that they wouldn’t be put back until the sea settled down on Wednesday or Thursday.


In the uThungulu District, mayor Thembeka Mchunu said over 50 homesteads in townships and rural areas were damaged by the strong winds and a continuous downpour.

People affected were evacuated from flooded areas, housed in community halls and given blankets and mattresses.

The Red Cross had assisted with soup kitchens at some shelters.

More than 170 people from 46 homes were affected by flooding in the iLembe district municipality, which has requested additional relief material, bearing in mind that winter is around the corner.

The volume of storm water also resulted in damage to a bridge, low level river crossings and some road works around KwaDukuza (formerly Stanger).

Zee Nqala, the district’s spokesperson, added that a few houses with poor structures were added to the provincial beneficiary list, to be submitted to the Department of Human Settlements.

Jozini resident Phumaphi Makhaye, 56, who broke both legs when her home collapsed on her early on Sunday, has been transferred to Durban’s Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital, which would not comment on her condition.

New emergency numbers

Meanwhile, the provincial Disaster Management Centre has released a new set of emergency numbers for various district municipalities.

This came after the Zululand Fever newspaper found that the emergency numbers of the uThukela, Amajuba, uMkhanyakude and Zululand districts didn’t work or were never answered.

On Monday the Democratic Alliance in KwaZulu-Natal criticised the provincial department of co-operative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) for publishing wrong emergency numbers.

“According to the report, four of the eleven numbers allocated to district disaster lines were wrong,” said DA Cogta spokesperson George Mari.

“All four numbers are within the northern KwaZulu-Natal area. In one instance an operator is alleged to have asked what a cyclone was,” he said.

“The claims are extremely worrying and raise questions around the administrative capacity of the province’s department.”

- Reporting by Jonathan Faurie, Tharuna Devchand and Jonathan Erasmus

- Are you there? Send us your photos.
Read more on:    durban  |  pietermaritzburg  |  weather  |  floods

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

How much food do you need to concentrate?

We have been taught that we need three meals a day in order to make it through the day and while most of us indulge in more than our fair share there is a large portion of South Africans who are living off barely enough to sustain them.


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.