SOUTH AFRICA: Police, army and volunteer rescuers today widened the search for dozens still missing five days after the deadliest storm to strike South Africa’s coastal city of Durban in living memory as the death toll rose to nearly 400.
The “unprecedented” floods, which affected nearly 41,000, left a trail of destruction and at least 395 people dead.
“Sadly the number of fatalities continues to increase with the latest figure standing at 395,” regional head of the disaster managing ministry Sipho Hlomuka said in a statement.
With the Government coordinating the search-and-rescue operation, the official number of people missing in KwaZulu-Natal Province stood at 55.
President Cyril Ramaphosa — describing the floods as “a catastrophe of enormous proportions… not seen before in our country” — urged Good Friday prayers for survivors.
Meanwhile volunteers, with gloves and trash bags, fanned across the city’s beaches to pick up debris left by the massive storms ahead of an expected surge of Easter weekend holidaymakers.
Some of Durban’s poorest residents have lined up to collect water from burst pipes and dug through layers of mud to retrieve their scant possessions.
Ramaphosa declared the region a state of disaster to unlock relief funds.
Weather forecasters said apocalyptic levels of rain were dumped on the region over several days.
Some areas received more than 450 millimetres (18 inches) over 48 hours, or nearly half of Durban’s annual rainfall, the national weather service said.
Over 4,000 police officers have been deployed to help with relief efforts and maintain law and order amid reports of sporadic looting.
– THE MALAY MAIL