Extreme weekend weather wreaks havoc on KwaZulu-Natal roads

2012-10-22 00:00

FLOOD waters swept five people away in northern KwaZulu-Natal, as extreme weather struck the province over the weekend.

Five people were killed in road accidents, in extreme weather, at Umlaas Road and in the Tala Game Reserve.

Homes in the Nqutu and kwaNongoma areas suffered massive damage.

Yesterday, police were still searching for three people who were washed down the Chibide River at Silutshane, near Vryheid, according to the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) spokesperson Lennox Mabaso.

Mabaso said eight houses were totally destroyed and 34 badly damaged by the heavy rainstorm on Saturday afternoon.

He said the Chibide River burst its banks and flooded homes in the nearby Silutshane.

Nqutu municipal disaster management team were looking at ways to assist 211 people who have been affected by the disaster.

Roofs were blown away and mud walls disintegrated under the fierce deluge of water. Cattle and goats huddled under trees.

Nqutu municipal manager Bongi Gumbi said the storm lasted for about an hour from 2 pm to 3 pm and it was vicious.

“It came from nowhere, we were all hiding, praying for our lives,” he said.

One local family was swept away in a flash flood and only two bodies have been found. Three bodies are still missing and police and community members were combing the river.

The municipality has called in the local disaster management team to assess the damage and those who have lost their homes have been accommodated in temporary tents. The disaster management team will also be meeting with local businesspeople to organise food relief for those who have lost everything.

The local hospital was also flooded and its roof was said to have been damaged by the severe winds that accompanied the storm.

However, provincial health spokesperson Desmond Motha denied this.

He said he had spoken with the area municipal manager, who said the hospital was functioning.

The widespread rain and storms have caused chaos and misery everywhere, especially on the roads. One woman died and two others were injured in Durban in the early hours of Saturday morning when their car veered off the road and rolled into a river in New Germany on Saturday morning.

It is believed the driver lost control of the car due to poor visibility and the wet conditions.

Another car accident occurred near the Tala game reserve when two vehicles collided head on. ER24 said two people died at the scene and one person is in a critical condition; another two have moderate injuries.

Paramedics arrived on the scene with other emergency services and found both vehicles in the road with extensive damage.

In Chatsworth, an elderly woman was seriously injured after a tow truck slammed into two vehicles on the M1 on Saturday morning.

The tow truck was rushing to attend to another accident scene.

Netcare 911 paramedics arrived at the scene and found the woman, in her 70s, with serious injuries. The tow truck driver was not injured.

Another accident in Umlaas Road claimed the lives of three men while two others were seriously injured after their car lost control yesterday.

The car veered off the road and rolled down an embankment. The occupants were flung out of the car.

Cogta’s Mabaso urged people to try not to travel in extreme weather and to also avoid crossing rivers. “We want people to play it safe,” he said.

• trish.beaver@witness.co.za

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