Death toll from Margate floods has risen to 5

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KwaZulu-Natal Cooperative Governance MEC Bongi Sithole-Moloi says the death toll from last night’s floods at Margate on the South Coast has risen to five.

The tourist town has suffered extensive damage as a local stream burst its banks and gushed through the town towards the sea.

Cars have been overturned and crushed, flood water washed away trees and roads and gouged out a large part of the promenade.

Brandon Lehman from The Grove Restaurant and Beach Bar on the beachfront says it started to rain after 4 o’clock yesterday afternoon but it turned into a heavy downpour around 7 o’clock.

Lehman says Hunters stream burst its banks. He claims that poor maintenance along banks of the stream and the storm water drainage system being blocked caused the devastation.

“We’ve lost valuable infrastructure, roads. It’s taken our support pillars, damaged the foundations of our building and the restaurant has been heavily affected. We cannot operate today. As you can see here as well, Margate beachfront has been completely destroyed. And this all due to just one river, small river . . . well, it’s called Hunters stream, it’s more a little stream. It’s all due to a lack of maintenance unfortunately. We’re hoping that the municipality can come to our aid and rebuild and restructure and do it properly.”

Disaster management teams are busy clearing washed-away trees from roads, where the flooding has also caused sinkholes.

The South African Weather Service has issued a level 5 warning that more severe thunderstorms can be expected along coastal areas up to Durban until midnight tonight.

Ray Nkonyeni Municipality spokesperson, Simon April, says search and rescue missions are under way.

“Right now, we have just retrieved three bodies. It is that of a male, female and a child. We believe that they were trying to cross a low-lying bridge but their vehicle was washed away. They were washed away, and we found their bodies near a river along the N2 highway. We have just received the news that at Ward 29, one person died after being struck by lightning.”