UN offers condolences to storm-hit Durban

2011-11-28 20:30

Durban - The United Nations’ chief climate change official on Monday assured delegates at the COP 17 conference in Durban that the centre in which they were gathered was safe.

UNFCCC executive secretary Christiana Figueres offered condolences to the city, which was struck by a violent storm on Sunday night that killed six people.

The high winds and heavy rain wrecked property, destroyed homes across the greater Durban area, and caused damage to the city’s convention centre.

Earlier, KwaZulu-Natal co-operative governance department spokesperson Mthatheni Mabaso said six people were killed in Umlazi and Clermont townships, south and west of the city, on Sunday night.

"We have been told they died when their houses collapsed. We have also been told that about 100 homes were flooded and damaged in Isipingo," he said.

Homes were flooded in Durban's affluent areas such as Umhlanga and Newlands.

"This shows that even the posh areas are not spared of the effects of climate change," said Mabaso.

Figueres confirmed the convention centre had been damaged in the storm.

"I’d like to reassure participants that this building is safe," she said.

"There has been some damage to the roof and flooding in the basement - but everything was back in place for the opening ceremony," she said.

She was speaking at a media briefing following the summit’s opening ceremony, which started shortly before 11:00 on Monday.

"What we witnessed last night was unseasonable weather... of the type we are seeing all over the world as greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere continue to rise," Figueres said.

Heavy rains

The Sunday night deaths brought to 11 the number of people killed by floods in KwaZulu-Natal in less than two weeks. Last week, five people died in the province due to heavy rains.

Mabaso said Co-Operative Governance MEC Nomusa Dube was set to visit some of the affected areas on Monday.

"She will be accompanied by her disaster management team. They will assess the damage," he said.

Several people, including a 1-year-old baby, were rescued from their Durban homes early on Monday after flash floods, Netcare 911 spokesperson Chris Botha said.

Families in four homes on Randles Road were stuck in waist-deep water after a heavy downfall.

"At around 01:00, Netcare 911 paramedics, their rescue team as well as police search and rescue were called to the four houses that had flooded to waist deep in the heavy rain.

"Rescue personnel assisted an elderly lady and a baby less than one year to safety. Both were treated for the cold and the elderly patient had to be treated for an asthma attack."

In Pietermaritzburg, several areas were damaged by heavy rains on Sunday night.

Paulpietersburg, Gingindlovu, Nkandla and Eshowe were the most affected during last week's floods. Three people died in Paulpietersburg, and two in the eThekwini municipality.

Up to 20 000 delegates from more than 190 countries are gathered in Durban to thrash out a plan to counter global warming and the catastrophic climate change, including extreme weather, it is causing in many parts of the world.

  • Deepchund - 2011-11-28 20:45

    Durban is in a summer rainfall area. There is nothing unusual about getting heavy rains. I understand there were washways in certain areas with retaining walls collapsing. The houses that collapsed were mainly in informal areas. It's time the government built houses for its citizens,instead of trying to please foreigners who masquerade as refugees.

      Richard - 2011-11-28 21:16

      But this storm had nothing to do with Durban being in a summer rainfall area. This was purely a result of climate change, didn't you hear what Mabaso said? And if we don't act right now, urgently, frantically, the next storm will be much worse and lightning will strike those who do not believe in climate change! The sea will rise and Pietermaritzburg will be the new Durban. Amen

      BA - 2011-11-28 23:00

      According to the global warming theorists there is a drought problem in Africa ruining food production and the "bakhand" brigade was begging for donations. What now? Change the beggar poster to some other absurd story?

  • Heinrich - 2011-11-28 20:46

    "chief climate change official" You've got to love these politicians. Like four year olds wearing lipstick and mascara.

  • r.mashigo - 2011-11-28 20:54

    Wouldn't that be ironic...if the building hosting the COP17 talks got hit by a massive storm. maybe that would pressure them to take some serious action towards climate change and stop talking hot air.

      Suspicious Mind - 2011-11-28 21:40

      LOL the building was badly affected by the storm geez LOL. What do want it to do fall in all the eejits that are sitting enjoying another holiday. Serve them all right as Nothing will come out of this meeting. Well not in most of our lifetimes...grrr!!!

  • Thulani - 2011-11-28 21:12

    you are all not going to like the kind of laws these Illuminati are going to come up with, in order to control reduce the cancer ( humans ) coursing climate change.

  • Cracker - 2011-11-28 21:48

    It is how it is. Drop the stupid pretenses that there is anything that can be done to avoid the inevitable. Natural procreation forces are too powerful. They will all complain until they also get a taste of the better things and then they will side to defend the acquisitions and even make it more comfortable to acquire the same. Go out and buy that new 4X4 and ignore the natural suckers and losers. You are in any event powerless to the silliness and hypocrisy that is going on. Luck of the draw.

  • AnthonyZA - 2011-11-28 22:35

    Global Warming is a myth. Watch The Great Global Warming Swindle. You don't have to drink the koolaid.

      tony.budden - 2011-11-29 14:19

      Yes, it is a pity that everyone gets hung up on the global warming things from politicians to the nay-sayers like yourself, as climate-change is not a myth, ask any farmer in africa who used to be able to plant with the seasons. What definitely is not a myth is our very negative impact on the earth... let's talk about resource depletion, eco-system collapse, urbanisation, over-population, pollution, ocean dead spots, deforestation, desertification etc etc. The contentious issue of gloabl warming is preventing us from looking at all these other issues. look deeper people...

  • ludlowdj - 2011-11-29 09:27

    This time of year is typically marked by heavy rain and storms, this is nothing unusual.

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