at least 253 dead in the country’s worst floods

A road gutted by bad weather, Tuesday, April 12, in Durban, South Africa.

According to the latest report released by local authorities on Wednesday, April 13, at least 253 people have died in the floods that have hit South Africa’s east coast in recent days. According to the representative of the health department of the province of Kwazul-Natal, the bodies continue to flow into the morgues, while dozens of people are still missing.

Collapsed bridges, sunken roads… Near Durban, the major port city that has become the epicenter of the disaster, landslides have left huge holes. “In 48 hours, more than 450mm of water fell in certain areas”, forecaster Dipuo Tawana told AFP. Meteorologists compared the amount of precipitation to that “normally associated with cyclones”

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa visits Clermont, a poor suburb of Durban, April 13, 2022.

“We see similar tragedies in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, but today we are the ones affected”, lamented South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who went to visit relatives on Wednesday morning in Clermont, a poor suburb of Durban. Local authorities are calling for a state of natural disaster to be declared.

“Climate change is getting worse”

The army was deployed to provide air support during the evacuations. According to local authorities, thousands of homes have been destroyed and at least 140 schools have been affected. Many roads have been blocked due to bad weather. The activity in the port had to be stopped, containers were washed away. The authorities reported looting.

The heavy rainfall also led to power outages and disrupted water supplies. Rail connections have been suspended and residents have been told to avoid travel.

“We know it’s climate change that’s getting worse. We’ve gone from extreme storms in 2017 to supposed record-breaking floods in 2019, but clearly exceeded today in 2022”, warned Mary Galvin, a professor of development studies at the University of Johannesburg. In 2019, floods in the region and neighboring Eastern Cape province had already claimed 70 lives and destroyed several coastal villages in mudslides.

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Le Monde and AFP

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