Human numbers of floods rise in South Africa, with damage estimated at hundreds of millions of euros

After suffering deadly floods, South Africa began on Tuesday (April 19th) to assess the destruction of a week of violent weather in the Durban region on the east coast.

At least 448 people died, according to a new report released in the evening, and the first economic estimates amount to several hundred million euros. “Five new bodies found today”said the prime minister of the province, Sihle Zikalala, on the ground. “The worst floods we’ve ever seen”The Minister for Disaster Management, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, has previously deplored the situation.

Torrential rains and landslides wreaked havoc on the 3.9 million-strong port city, the epicenter of the KwaZulu-Natal disaster: rocky roads, collapsed bridges, shattered pipes. President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday declared a state of national disaster, which should allow the release of exceptional resources.

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Helicopters continue to fly over the city in search of dozens of people who are still missing. The influx of corpses has put pressure on funeral homes.

The water challenge

Throughout the day, ministers visited severely damaged schools, health centers and infrastructure. “The main challenge is water”, said Health Minister Joe Phaahla as he left a hospital where patients use buckets to wash and flush the toilet. Neighbors have been without drinking water for eight days, with 80% of the city’s network affected. Nearly 4,000 homes were razed, more than 13,500 damaged. Tanker trucks try to reach the towns, but the areas remain inaccessible. Authorities have said they have restored electricity almost everywhere, but the country is plagued by further power outages, due to aging infrastructure.

Some 10,000 soldiers, including plumbers and electricians, are being deployed to help with rehabilitation. Air support has been strengthened, in particular for the transport of goods. Troops were sent to distribute cisterns and install water purification systems.

“I do not understand why they waited so long before sending the army. (…) What is it for now? To retrieve corpses? »plague Olona Ngcobo, 26, who lost her home.

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Some 270,000 students have not returned to class, more than 600 schools have been affected. At least 27 million euros will be needed just to rebuild the buildings, said Education Minister Angie Motshekga, also on site.

“There must be absolute transparency”

The port of Durban, one of Africa’s major maritime terminals and a keystone of the country’s economic activity, is back in operation. But between 8,000 and 9,000 containers are currently unloaded. Major damage to the road connecting the port with the rest of the country and the mainland prevented the daily passage of 13,000 trucks of goods. Many companies have seen their computers and sites destroyed.

Thus, the authorities foresee hundreds of millions of euros in damages. A first estimate for the repair of road infrastructure alone amounts to about 354 million euros. The government had already announced last week an emergency fund of 63 million euros for the region that had already suffered mass destruction in July during a wave of unprecedented riots and looting.

Some are already worried about possible embezzlement in a country with a long history of corruption: “There must be absolute transparency”said Karam Singh of the NGO Corruption Watch.

Also read: South Africa: Continuation of a report on endemic corruption during the Jacob Zuma era

South Africa, faced with an unprecedented natural disaster, is generally spared the bad weather that regularly affects its neighbors such as Mozambique or Madagascar.

The world with AFP

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