Rain, flooding claim 32 lives

2014-03-17 14:45
(Duncan Alfreds, News24)

(Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Johannesburg - Thirty-two people died due to heavy rain and flooding in five provinces in the past two weeks, the co-operative governance and traditional affairs department said on Monday.

"In the past two weeks, large parts of South Africa have been subject to heavy rainfall, particularly the provinces of North West, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Gauteng, and KwaZulu-Natal," Deputy Minister Andries Nel said in a statement.

These included 25 drownings, 12 of which took place in Mpumalanga, five in North West, four in Limpopo, three in Gauteng, and one in KwaZulu-Natal.

Six people also died when they were struck by lightning, while another died when a wall collapsed in KwaZulu-Natal.

"A number of people have been rescued from the roofs of their vehicles and several were trapped in their homes," said Nel.

The municipalities most affected by the rainy weather conditions included Madibeng local municipality in North West, Lephalale local municipality Limpopo, and Nkomazi local municipality in Mpumalanga.

"There has been considerable damage to roads and bridges, houses, and water pumps, pipes, and other water infrastructure."

Nel said communities in certain areas were unable to access workplaces, health services, shelter, and schools.

State of local disaster declared

The Waterberg district municipality in Limpopo had indicated its intention to declare a state of local disaster.

"Municipalities or provinces that want to declare a disaster may qualify for national financial support," said Nel.

Three-thousand other people were still displaced in the Lephalale local municipality due to the high water levels, while the water had subsided in other provinces and the affected community members had returned to their homes.

The National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) had activated the relevant sectors to assist with aerial support, search and rescue, and humanitarian relief in the affected areas.

"This is largely provided by municipalities and provinces in collaboration with the provincial joint structures," said Nel.

Rescue and search services remained on high alert, while all other services, including aerial support, would stand down and be on normal standby as of Monday.

The NDMC would also be in close contact with the water affairs department and the SA Weather Service to issue early warning alerts.

"All relevant joint operation centres will also continue to be activated until an assurance by the SA Weather Service that no further above normal rainfalls are expected across the country," said Nel.

He warned people living in flood-prone areas to take extra precautions, and urged motorists to remain vigilant while driving in rainy weather conditions.

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