341 die in KZN floods, 55 hurt, damage of billions — premier Sihle Zikalala
The death toll in the floods in KwaZulu-Natal was 341 on Thursday evening, said premier Sihle Zikalala as he briefed journalists on the province's response to the disaster.
The eThekwini metropolitan municipality was hardest hit, with 301 deaths recorded. Ugu on the south coast recorded six, Umzinytathi two, King Cetshwayo four and iLembe 28 deaths. About 55 injuries had been registered.
Zikalala said 40,723 people have been affected by the floods, with 248 schools damaged.
He said the magnitude of damage will definitely “run into billions of rand” but the province was still quantifying the damage.
The priority for the government, said Zikalala, was to ensure that affected families got support and shelter, were provided with food and clothing, and that bereaved families were helped to bury their loved ones.
Another priority is to clear the roads, restore water and electricity and have life return to normal. “Experts will then begin a detailed assessment, which will quantify the figures and the resources needed,” Zikalala said. “We have experienced serious disruption of water and electricity. Teams are working to return normality to systems.”
With regard to electricity supply, especially in eThekwini, Zikalala said he had been advised that power has been restored to most of the city. He said only three substations remained off because of extensive damage.
Zikalala said water supply in some areas had been affected.
He said the Tongaat water works suffered serious damage and the municipality will be deploying more water tankers and is currently procuring a package plant that will be able to supply water.
Zikalala said Umgeni Water and the department of co-operative governance and traditional affairs has committed to help with additional water tankers.
The province’s road network had also been hugely damaged.
“We have proceeded with emergency work to clear roads and return access to highways, such as the N2, N3 and other important networks. More areas are becoming accessible.”
He said one of the roads that had closed facilitated the movement of cargo in the Durban terminal.
“Its closure will have an impact on economic activities. Trucks are unable to access the container terminal.”
He said some of the roads which had been closed had traffic diverted to nearby roads.
“On the N3 to Durban, two lanes have been closed around Camperdown for cleanup. Delays continue on the N3 around the Mariannhill toll plaza. Priority is also given to township roads where the entry and exit points have been cut off because roads and bridges have been damaged,” he said.
Psychosocial support and social relief in distress, including food, vouchers and blankets, were being offered to bereaved and affected families.
“Municipalities will announce burial assistance to families that require support,” said Zikalala.
He called on people living near rivers and wetlands to to move to higher lying areas should the rain persist.
“We beg people not to take risks crossing rivers. All of us have seen what happened. We call on all people to be extra careful.”
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