The KwaZulu-Natal Co-operative Governance ministry has finally confirmed that the death toll due to heavy rains in KwaZulu-Natal has risen to 259.
President Cyril Ramaphosa who has been visiting the flood hit province had earlier said that he feared the death toll could top 100 and that the exact number would be confirmed later today.
Following a day long visit of President Ramaphosa in various areas in eThekwini municipality, government has announced latest figures of the death toll.
In a statement, the provincial government says the loss of human life as a result of the inclement weather conditions is one of the darkest moments in the history of the province. Hundreds of people have been left homeless with many roads and public infrastructure severely damaged.
There are fears the death toll could rise still further as a number of people are still missing.
The government has also warned that the bad is expected to continue over the weekend.
“The inclement weather conditions are expected to continue over the Easter Weekend, with the ground already saturated any rain that takes place could cause more flooding and mudslides. Residents are urged to seek alternative accommodation or use community halls,” reads the statement in part.
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State of Disaster
The president has linked the severe flooding in the province to climate change. He was speaking while visiting parts of KwaZulu-Natal that have been badly hit by flooding. He says well over a hundred people have died in the flooding that followed intense rainfall.
President Ramaphosa has declared KwaZulu-Natal a state of disaster. The government of KwaZulu-Natal requested that the province be classified as a disaster area on Tuesday.
During his visit to the province, President Ramaphosa confirmed that the declaration is currently in the process of being gazetted.
Ramaphosa says the government is coordinating its response to the massive damage and losses caused by the floods. The president was speaking at Ntuzuma in KwaMashu.
Ramaphosa has assured residents in KwaZulu-Natal affected by the damage caused by heavy rains the that government will assist those affected.
“What is painful is that a lot of people have died. Their homes have been destroyed, streets, towns, and this church has been destroyed… So we said let’s go to the areas to see the damage ourselves in order to see how government can help.”
It is raining again in the area which is expected to delay rescue and mop-up operations.
The National Defence Force says it has dispatched some of its aircraft to assist in flood-ravaged KwaZulu Natal. SANDF Chief General Rudzani Maphwanya says they are keen to assist KZN.
“We have operations that we conduct, we have operation chariot, immediately when we were informed we could lift goods and airforce is providing air support.”
KwaZulu-Natal Floods I Aerial view of the damage: