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Army helicopters sent in to rescue dozens stranded at Centurion hotel

09 December 2019 - 14:33 By IAVAN PIJOOS and Naledi Shange

The SA Weather Service issued flood warnings for parts of Gauteng, Mpumalanga and the North West after days of heavy rain.

The air force was called in on Monday to rescue numerous people trapped by flood waters as heavy rain continued to pelt Centurion.

ER24 spokesperson Russel Meiring said two air force helicopters had been brought in to help rescue people trapped in a hotel in Centurion, adding that paramedics were also part of the rescue operation.

Visuals of the chopper hovering around the hotel airlifting people have been circulated on social media.

Earlier, Tshwane emergency services told TimesLIVE that more than 30 people were stranded at the Centurion Hotel on Monday afternoon due to flooding. Visuals taken from bystanders with a view of the hotel showed how vehicles parked in the courtyard were swept away in the rising waters.

EMS spokesperson Charles Mabaso said 35 stranded people were moved to higher floors of the hotel.

“I can confirm that we have also learnt of an evacuation taking place at the hotel. Earlier when we spoke to management they had moved to the upper floors. The flooding is at the ground floor,” he said.

Meanwhile, several shacks at an informal settlement in Eerste Fabrieke, Mamelodi, have been swept away.

"We got a number of shack dwellers trapped there because of the high water. A number of them are on rooftops but we have emergency services and water technicians there," said Mabaso.

"Earlier we had reports that two children had been swept away by the water in that area, but it is not confirmed."

Displaced shack dwellers would be given alternative accommodation at Mamelodi Hall, he said.

Mabaso confirmed that several vehicles were underwater in Moloto, Pretoria north.

"We had to rescue people from a bridge there."

Informal settlements in Soshanguve were also flooded, as were low-water bridges on Rabie and End streets.

Mabaso said emergency services remained on high alert.

Twitter users have posted the extent of the flooding.

The weather service reported the following rainfall figures over the 24 hours between 8am on Sunday and 8am on Monday:

  • 103mm in Irene;
  • 103mm in Ermelo; and
  • 96mm at the University of South Africa’s rainfall station in Pretoria.

Areas around the Apies River in the north of Pretoria, the Centurion Lake area and Nelmapius in Pretoria East have also been affected by the flooding.

In Johannesburg, the municipality's EMS spokesperson Robert Mulaudzi said there had not yet been any major flood-related incidents.

“However, we are monitoring most of our low-lying areas, like Kaalfontein in Midrand, Klip Valley in Soweto and the Jukskei River in Alexandra,” he said.

Saws spokesperson Hannelee Doubell encouraged the public to keep an eye on the service's Twitter account for updates.

- Additional reporting by Phathu Luvhengo.