70 confirmed dead in KZN floods
At least 70 people have been confirmed dead following heavy rains and flooding in KwaZulu-Natal on Monday, 22 April 2019. KwaZulu-Natal Cooperative Governance MEC, Nomusa Dube-Ncube, reportedly said that more bodies had been discovered under the rubble as rescue operations continued throughout Tuesday night. KZN acting Premier Sihle Zikalala made the announcement that the death toll in the KwaZulu-Natal floods, has climbed to 70 at a media briefing on Thursday morning, 25 April 2019. Zikalala indicated that final figures will be released later in the day. “It is a situation that is worrying,” Zikalala said. “It is the first time in KwaZulu-Natal that we lose people in this greater number.” Five more people remain unaccounted for, she said.
President Cyril Ramaphosa visited communities in flood-stricken KwaZulu-Natal and expressed his personal sadness over the loss of life and damage to property. "As South Africans, the entire nation’s thoughts and prayers are with the people of KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape who have been affected by the forces of nature against which they had little defence," said the president.
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.
She said dozens of cases 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 the 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. The death toll in the Easter weekend storm over KwaZulu-Natal may still rise as it is still being tallied by emergency services and police on Tuesday. Police search and rescue, emergency services and private ambulance services were busy throughout the weekend.
Rescue workers have their hands full out on the field with some describing it as an absolute disaster with many terrible tragedies; houses and walls collapsed. IPSS Medical Rescue in a statement on Tuesday said various rescue organisations spent the entire night assisting in the greater Durban area with flooding. "Multiple structural collapses have left at least six people dead and many more missing and buried under mud and debris. IPSS Medical crews together with other agencies are still out preforming search and rescue operations. The greater Durban area is severely flooded. We urge all motorists to be cautious".
In Ellen Road, Queensburgh, four people died when an embankment collapsed onto a house on Tuesday, 23 April 2019. Sivan Subramodey, of Amawele Emergency Services, confirmed that four people were dead including a six-month-old baby. Two people, one with a broken leg and the other with a hip injury were transported to hospital. Three people are still missing. Subramodey said neighbours and relatives came to assist and gave them an indication of how many people could be in the house. "It was a devastating scene. A similar incident occurred in Westcliff but we could not get into the premises because of the mud. An embankment collapsed onto the staff quarters at a school. It was too dangerous," he said.
Garrith Jamieson, a spokesperson, for Rescue Care paramedics, said a 70-year-old woman was stuck under rubble when her West Road home in Overport collapsed. Her son, who was in another room, died. Jamieson says a man, woman, a little boy and a baby girl were crushed to death when a bank collapsed onto three homes on a property along Ellen Road. "A bank gave way and actually wiped out three separate residences, leaving multiple people entrapped and hurt. We arrived at the home to find a mudslide. We managed to save a lady who was trapped in the rubble. She then informed us that there were multiple other people in the building," said Jamieson.
The Police Search and Rescue Unit, as well as other emergency personnel, had to carry heavy slabs of concrete out of the wrecked homes as they tried to look for survivors.
In Stapleton Road, Pinetown one person died when cars were washed away. Mike Meyers, a spokesperson for Mobi-Claw 911 advised people to stay off the roads because emergency services are under massive pressure attending to flood-related life-threatening emergencies. He said, "This pressure is being exaggerated by people insisting on driving and getting themselves into unsafe situations."
Roads that were reported as flooded were the M7 between Belville Bridge and North Park Road, Higginson Highway in Chatsworth, Isipingo Beach by Prospecton, N2 north opposite Galleria mall until Umlazi offramp and Kingsway in Amanzimtoti. There were reports of trees falling and mudslides blocking roads in suburbs, making it impossible for people to get to work. On St Helier Road in Hillcrest, a woman escaped unharmed when mud began flowing down an embankment and covered her car. The mud was waist deep.
In Umhlatuzana the river has burst its bank, covering the bridge and flooding homes in Kharwastan. The road near the Shallcross Stadium was also blocked by a landslide. The road surface on Silverglen Drive between Grasmere Avenue and Berryfield Place had collapsed while the road leading to King Edward Hospital was flooded in the Umbilo area.
Robert Mckenzie, KwaZulu-Natal Emergency Medical Services spokesperson, also warned people not to send hoax messages and old pictures of the flood from October. "It was a busy Monday with peak traffic of holidaymakers. Crashes across the province on the N3 and poor visibility was reported," he said.
On Monday night, 22 April 2019, a 14-year old girl died and nine others were injured when five cars collided on the N3 southbound near Inchanga said Netcare 911 spokesperson Shawn Herbst.
Several schools in Durban were closed because access roads to them were blocked due to flooding.
A man, believed to be in his 50s, was injured on Monday morning when part of his home collapse on Rockview Road in Amanzimtoti, KwaZulu-Natal on Monday. ER24 paramedics arrived on the scene at 8h00 to find VEMA and another private service already in attendance. A large part of the road and property had collapse, including a section of the residence.
Paramedics assessed a man, believed to be in his 50s, who was in the home at the time of the collapse and found that he had sustained injuries to his head. The man was treated for his injuries and thereafter transported to Prince Mshiyeni Hospital for further care.
eThekwini Municipality held a press conference on Tuesday, stating, “Heavy rain culminated in various parts of the province, claiming at least 21 lives and 32 patients in and around Durban. Over 2 000 emergency calls were logged last night (Monday).”
MEC for Human Settlements in KwaZulu-Natal, Ravi Pillay, has heaped praise on emergency workers and residents who joined hands to rescue those stranded as a result of the floods in Durban. Pillay visited the site of a structural collapse in Westcliff, near Chatsworth, that claimed the lives of eight people. "The disaster management teams which include the Search and Rescue units, Metro Police and fire units, have been stretched to their limits. We want to pay tribute to them for their efforts. Many of the members are still working from yesterday afternoon and are continuing to work now. I also want to pay tribute to the local community in Westcliff who mobilised trucks and excavators to remove the bodies that were trapped."
NGO Gift of the Givers is coordinating a humanitarian mission to areas affected by floods in KwaZulu-Natal. A helicopter chartered by the NGO scoured the extent of the impact of flooding in KwaZulu-Natal. The NGO is due to distribute blankets, plastic sheeting, new clothing, shoes, food, baby milk, linen, dishes, stationery, diapers, sanitary pads, school clothing and other relevant items.
Source: East Coast Radio, EWN, News24, Gift of the Givers and SABC