South Africa: at least 12 dead in floods
MISE À DAY
At least 12 people have died in floods caused by heavy rains in South Africa where a state of national disaster has been declared, with rising waters affecting the Kruger Tourist Park in particular, according to the department national disaster management on Tuesday.
A previous report the day before reported 7 dead.
Bad weather claimed victims in four provinces – out of nine in total – along the eastern edge of the country, much of which is open to the Indian Ocean, department spokeswoman Lungi Mtshali told AFP.
“The province of Mpumalanga (north-east) seems to be the most affected so far. The situation in Kruger Park is really not good”, she underlined.
The largest national reserve in the country which extends over 2 million hectares is crossed by several rivers, most of which have been in flood since last weekend, according to the National Institute of Weather Forecasts (SAWS).
“Movement inside the park is restricted as some roads are damaged. But the situation remains manageable,” Isaac Phaahla, spokesman for the national parks agency (SanPark), told AFP. Several camps inside the reserve had been preventively evacuated in the previous days.
The rains began to fall on the country last week, caused by a sudden cold snap in full austral summer. More than 200mm of rain fell in one day in some areas, SAWS forecaster Puseletso Mofokeng told AFP.
Further rains are forecast for the rest of the week with the arrival of a tropical depression this time, Mofokeng warned, adding that with “surfaces already saturated, water can no longer be absorbed by soils and floods occur more easily.”
The presidency declared a state of national disaster on Monday. The government plans to provide “temporary shelter, food and blankets to people who have lost their homes, as well as costly and large-scale rehabilitation of infrastructure”. Extensive destruction has already been reported with roads and bridges damaged as well as a hospital affected.
The country suffered the worst flooding in its history last year hitting the coastal city of Durban (southeast). Torrential rains had triggered impressive mudslides carrying away everything in their path. These bad weather had caused more than 400 deaths and many missing, with damage amounting to several tens of millions of euros.