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Death toll rises in KZN floods

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By Bongani Hans And Bernadette Wolhuter

KwaZulu-Natal - At least 10 people have been killed and many more injured in heavy rains that wreaked havoc in the province on Monday night, destroying many homes.

Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Nomusa Dube said on Tuesday afternoon that the department had confirmed two deaths at the Megavillage informal settlement in uMlazi, six in Chatsworth, one in KwaDabeka near Clermont and one in Mzinto, on the South Coast.

However, Dube said the department had received more reports of deaths, which had not yet been confirmed. These included three children who were killed in Dassenhoek, near Mariannhill, when heavy rains caused the wall of the house they were sleeping in to collapse on them.

eThekwini metro police said three children were among those killed when their shacks collapsed at Bayview informal settlement in Chatsworth and at KwaDabeka. Two of the children were killed together with their mother. All the victims were asleep.

Zanele Cele, 45, lost her 25-year-old daughter Delisile Cele, who was killed together with her boyfriend Sbo Shezi, 30.

Cele said she was asleep with her partner in a nearby shack when she heard people outside shouting “Delisile and Sbo are buried by mud”.

“It was about 4am when I heard the noise. I rushed to my the house and found people already there trying to pull them out.

“We dug for about 30 minutes until we found their bodies on the bed, and covered them with blankets,” she said.

Voeter Bhengu said his cousin’s 11-year-old son Thula Shangase escaped death when his family’s house collapsed. But his sister-in-law, Zinhle Sosibo, had been buried and killed when a high wall behind the house fell and pushed the house down.

“It took us about 30 minutes to dig Zinhle’s body out of the mud. My cousin only returned from work at about 6am after we had already dug his girlfriend out of the mud,” said Bhengu.

Road Traffic Inspectorate spokeswoman Mngomezulu said that in Nkandla, traffic had to be diverted from the P90 when the Nsuze River Bridge was washed away.

Mngomezulu said the N2 northbound lanes had to be closed for two hours due to a mudslide.

Emergency personnel have had their hands full.

Netcare911 spokesman Chris Botha said paramedics, along with the fire department and police search and rescue unit, had rescued nine homeless people who became trapped in the middle of the flooded Umhlatuzana River while they were trying to cross it after floodwaters rose on Monday night.

The National Sea Rescue Institute’s Craig Lambinon said his crews had assisted in numerous operations, including one where three people were rescued from a flooded housing complex in iFafa Club Marina Resort, south of Umzinto. In addition, the police search and rescue unit rescued three people in KwaMashu, near Bridge City, after they abandoned their vehicle on a flooded bridge above the Umhlangane River and scrambled up scaffolding to escape the rising water levels.

In Amajuba, a bus transporting members from the SA Local Government Association was involved in an accident at a bridge near Newcastle. Rescue teams helped 17 injured people and freed the driver, who had become trapped in the wreckage.

The MEC estimated the rains had caused property damage totalling tens of millions of rand in the province. She said the worst-hit area was Acacia Vale.

The weather system that caused the recent storms has moved north for the time being, and mild conditions are predicted for the province until the end of the week. However, the system is expected to return on Saturday, when the weather will be similar to that experienced over the past two days. - The Mercury

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