Durban flood survivor says his family is lucky to be alive, as death toll rises to 32

2019-04-23 21:29


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"I have seen heavy rains in my life, but not like I saw in the early hours of today."

These are the words of 43-year-old Xolani Ngubo.

Ngubo and his family were left homeless when heavy rains struck his home in Emhlabeni informal settlement in Umlazi, south of Durban on Tuesday.

Ngubo told GroundUp that he and his family were lucky to be alive after part of their three-room informal house fell on them while they were sleeping.

"Last night we had seen that the weather was getting uglier but we stayed in our shack because we had nowhere else to go. We kept praying that it wouldn't get worse in the middle of the night but we could hear the rain hitting harder and harder on the roof," said Ngubo.

He said at about 02:00 he suddenly heard a loud bang from the back of his home.

"I jumped out of my bed and I went to the other bedroom where my two kids were sleeping. I grabbed them and went outside the shack."

He said that was when he noticed that the children's mother, Balungile Mthembu had not come out of the house.

"I left my kids outside and went back inside the shack and that's when I discovered that her legs were seriously injured. I started shouting for help from the neighbours and we called the ambulance but it took a long time so we ended up helping her out of the rubble and hired a car. She was rushed to Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital," said Ngubo.

He said Mthembu, 39, was being treated in hospital for fractured leg and ribs.

When GroundUp spoke to Ngubo he did not know where he and the children would be sleeping. He said no-one from the authorities had come to their area.

The KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs said 32 people had died in Monday night's floods.

MEC Nomsa Dube-Ncube urged residents and visitors to the province to remain on full alert and to move to higher ground if under threat. She said disaster relief efforts were in progress in all affected areas.

"Heavy rains have claimed 32 lives so far and ten missing persons, all [of the missing] are children in and around Durban alone. There have also been 42 reported injuries. Over 2 000 emergency calls were logged in the Durban area last night," said Dube-Ncube.

She said dozens of incidents of collapsed walls and flooded homes had been reported, with 235 Durban homes already assessed as damaged.

"Roads have been flooded too, disrupting traffic as KZN enters the first working day after the Easter weekend. Motorists and pedestrians are urged to exercise utmost caution on the roads that are already flooded or where there is high risk of flash flooding," said Dube-Ncube.

She said the province was working closely with eThekwini metro and other affected municipalities to coordinate relief efforts.

Authorities had reported 145 displaced persons, some of whom had already found shelter with relatives.

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