South Africa declared a national disaster on Monday night, after floods caused by heavy rains in recent days killed seven people and left many more missing, according to disaster management centers in several provinces.
According to a statement from the presidency, “the government has declared a state of national disaster to enable a sustained and coordinated response to the impact of the floods.”
No official national toll has been made public yet. However, 7 of the country’s 9 provinces, mostly on the east coast and facing the Indian Ocean, are under threat from the bad weather.
Nonala Ndlovu, a spokesperson for the disaster management center of the coastal province KwaZulu-Natal (KZN, south-east), told AFP that at least five people died there.
One of them is a newborn child who, according to a statement, perished in a house flood. And after attempting to cross a flooded river, several people are still missing.
Local authorities report that two additional fatalities occurred in the neighboring province of Mpumalanga in the northeast.
A hospital in the province of Limpopo (north), which borders Zimbabwe, reportedly suffered damage.
Cars were washed away, and roads and bridges suffered damage.
According to a statement from the president’s office, farmers have experienced crop and livestock losses. Due to the bad weather, “people who have lost their homes will need to be provided with temporary shelter, food, and blankets, as well as expensive and extensive infrastructure rehabilitation.”
The National Weather Centre anticipates “persistent and heavy” rains with “waterlogged soils and saturated rivers” increasing the likelihood of flooding.
The third-largest city in South Africa and a significant port on the continent, Durban (KZN), was particularly affected by the country’s worst flooding in history last year. Impressive mudslides were caused by heavy rains, and they swept away people, bridges, roads, and entire structures.
More than 85,000 people were affected by the storms, which claimed over 400 lives.