SAnews.gov.za (Tshwane)

12 December 2012

South Africa: Mpumalanga Residents Warned of Heavy Rains

Mbombela — Mpumalanga Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Madala Masuku has warned residents in the province of heavy rain falls following a horrific accident in which 14 people died when a bridge collapsed due to bad weather this week.

Masuku visited the site of the accident on the road between Ermelo and Lothair on Tuesday.

"As government, we will be meeting with the affected families to find a way of helping them in this difficult time. People are advised to move away from river banks and they must avoid crossing full rivers and over flowing bridges," said Masuku.

The MEC said all municipalities in the province have been instructed to be on full alert as the heavy rains could result in an increase of dam and river levels, thus making small streams and rivers very dangerous.

He further extended the warning to those who will be visiting the province over the next few days.

Community Safety, Security and Liaison Department spokesman Joseph Mabuza said the accident happened at about 9pm on Monday.

"The vehicles the 14 people were travelling in crashed into a broken bridge and the deceased were found on the scene while eight other people were rushed to Ermelo Hospital where five of them were checked and immediately discharged," said Mabuza.

Community safety, security and liaison department MEC Vusi Shongwe has sent condolences to the families of the 14 victims.

He said this was one of the accidents that has saddened the whole country.

"Although it was an unavoidable accident, we continue to urge people to be more cautious when driving as the current weather situation may lead to more accidents. In a situation where bridges overflow, motorists must not take risks as it may endanger their lives," said Shongwe.

He also said that as children are home for school holidays, parents are urged to warn them not to play next to streams and rivers.

"We request all communities to take precautions, especially those who are staying in low-lying areas. All road users are urged to be extremely cautious on the roads as they are wet and rocks might have fallen in some areas," Shongwe said.

Masuku said in case of any possible flooding, residents are advised to call the disaster management Toll free number on 0800 202 507/ 0800 202 507.

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