Mpumalanga man missing as Cyclone Eloise causes flooding

Roads closed and bridges submerged after heavy rainfall in Kruger Park

25 January 2021 - 12:09 By Ernest Mabuza and Graeme Hosken
The Crocodile Bridge, a low-water bridge crossing the Crocodile River and leading directly to the Crocodile Bridge rest camp in the Kruger National Park, has been closed because of flooding.
The Crocodile Bridge, a low-water bridge crossing the Crocodile River and leading directly to the Crocodile Bridge rest camp in the Kruger National Park, has been closed because of flooding.
Image: SANParks

A search is under way for an Mpumalanga man who was washed away in flood waters caused by Cyclone Eloise.

Ian Scher of Rescue SA confirmed that their teams were searching for the man, who was last seen trying to cross a river in the Pilgrim's Rest area.

“The search is still ongoing. We have yet to locate the man,” he said.

Areas across eastern Mpumalanga have been cut off or badly damaged by flood waters caused by the cyclone.

Meanwhile, heavy rains over large parts of the Kruger National Park on Sunday night have resulted in the Sand, Nwasitshaka and Sabie rivers flowing strongly, causing all low-level bridges in the area to be under water.

South African National Parks (SANParks), the body responsible for managing SA's national parks, said it was closely monitoring all the roads in the park.

Kruger Park spokesperson Ike Phaahla said the Tshokwane road was closed after the latest rains on Sunday.

The worst is over, but SA should remain cautious – SA Weather Service

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He said all gravel roads were closed.

Phaahla said SANParks would inspect several bridges that were now submerged, once the water subsided.

At least 12 people have died across Mozambique since Cyclone Eloise hit the country's key port city of Beira on January 23 2021. On January 24 the cyclone weakened and headed inland to Zimbabwe, Eswatini and South Africa, leaving more flooding and damage in its wake.

Phaahla said SANParks had evacuated all its bushveld camps as a precautionary measure on Friday.

He said there had not been a need for further evacuations.

“Be extremely cautious - don’t drive through roads with a 'no entry' sign, avoid low-lying bridges. Don’t drive if it’s not necessary,” Phaahla warned visitors to the park.

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