443 dead, 600 schools destroyed… Ramaphosa gives update on S’Africa flood disaster
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa says a total of 443 people lost their lives to the flood disaster recorded in KwaZulu-Natal province.
Rainfall, which began on April 11, resulted in flooding across communities in KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa.
During a televised address on Monday, Ramaphosa said the flood has caused great economic and social damage to the country.
He described the flood as “a humanitarian disaster” that calls for massive relief efforts as the lives, health and well-being of thousands of people are still at risk.
“Today, a total of 443 people are known to have lost in lives in Kwazulu-Natal town. They have been reported deaths in the Eastern Cape as a result of the flood. Approximately, 48 people are missing or unaccounted for in Kwazulu-Natal town,” Ramaphosa said.
“On the other side of the country, a community of Langa in Cape Town is counting the cost of a devastating fire that displaced 300 homes and displaced around 1,000 people. We are working with the city of Cape Town to provide shelter and relief to the affected families.
“The flood has caused extensive damage to homes, businesses, roads, bridges, water, electricity, rail, and telecommunication. The flooding has destroyed food lines and supplies. Areas located in waterways were severely affected.
“Nearly 4,000 homes have been completely destroyed and over 8,300 homes have been partially damaged in Kwazulu-Natal town. It is estimated that more than 40,000 people have been displaced by these floods.
“The port of Durban, which is one of the largest busiest shipping terminals on the African continent and vital to our economy, has been severely affected. Access to the port has been disrupted.
“This route handles some 30,000 vehicles per day. The damage caused to businesses has not been fully quantified by assessment.”
He added that there has also been extensive damage to public infrastructure, including schools, health facilities, magistrate offices, and various government buildings.
“It is estimated that over 270,000 learners have been affected by this flood. Over 600 schools have been damaged. Sixty of them are inaccessible due to damage to connecting roads and bridges,” he said.
“At least one educator has died. Sixty-six public health care facilities have been affected, although there has been minimal disruption to services.”
He said extensive work is underway to restore basic services such as water, electricity, sanitation, and waste removal to various areas in the province.
He also said the South African Police Service and the National Defence Force have been leading search-and-rescue efforts.
He added that his cabinet met in a special session and agreed to declare a national state of disaster.
“The minister of cooperative governance and traditional affairs has been mandated to gazette the declaration,” he said.
“This is to ensure an effective response to all spheres of government to extreme weather events and conditions that have occurred in several parts of the country.”