KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala says five more bodies have been found in separate locations around the eThekwini metro, bringing the death toll from last week’s floods to 448.
Zikalala was addressing search and rescue teams from across the country who have travelled to the province at the disaster joint operations centre at Durban’s Virginia Airport on Tuesday.
Premier Sihle Zikalala, COGTA MEC give update as death toll increases to 448 deaths:
Durban’s Virginia Airport is the disaster operations centre for all search and rescue teams working in KwaZulu-Natal. Here, teams prepare to fly off or drive to their deployment areas in search of missing bodies.
A short drive further north to Phoenix, and one is met with hopeful families, gathered outside the Phoenix mortuary. Searching for missing family members.
Thami Mhlongo from Inanda says his 23-year-old niece is still missing after their home was washed away. He says this is the second time he’s come to the mortuary hoping that one of the bodies belongs to his beloved niece.
“My niece Ntonbikayise Myeza was with my grandmother in the house. The house was washed away and we found our gran down by the ditch with a broken leg. She is currently in hospital. It’s been a week since Ntombikayise went missing so we come here each time we hear that bodies have been found hoping we’ll find her body as well.”
In Umzinyathi, community members stand on a hill, looking down as search and rescue teams recovered a body at the river bank. It is believed that the body was initially discovered by community members, who battled to retrieve it. This is one of several search and recovery operations that are underway.
Resident Themba Mbonambi says, “I have neighbours that, I’m sure of, who were swept away by the floods. It’s devastating seeing this kind of situation happen. I managed to get out when I saw the water levels increasing but luckily my house was not destroyed. Flooding happens in this area when there are heavy rains.”
Zikalala praises the search and rescue teams for their commitment and hard work. “We as the nation, we celebrate you as true heroes and heroines of the South African nation, who go out there and bring smiles on the faces of children and mothers in pain, and those who are still confused because they can’t understand and they cannot explain what happened. You cross rivers, climb mountains and reach those who became inaccessible.”
Scores of people are missing after the floods.
The search for missing people continues.