21 January 2013

South Africa: Limpopo Flood Rescue Resumes

Photo: Aliyu Adekunle S/Vanguard
Flooding leaves many homeless.

Johannesburg — Operations resumed on Monday morning to rescue people left stranded when the Limpopo river burst its banks, the provincial co-operative governance department said.

"The choppers were trying to help yesterday [Sunday], but had to stop at night. Forty-five people out of 334 people were rescued," spokeswoman Dieketseng Diale said.

"The rescue operations resumed today [Monday]."

Residents were stranded when they sought refuge on rooftops and mountains.

Diale could not immediately confirm reports that four people drowned when they were swept away by the strong currents on Sunday.

The extent of the damage was still being assessed.

"A lot of houses have been damaged, but there is no way to give a figure because certain areas are still inaccessible."

Provincial health and social development MEC Norman Mabasa was expected to visit the Musina hospital and flood victims on Monday morning.

"Such disasters weigh heavily on the response of our health services, so we are visiting Musina to ensure that everything is running smoothly as it should and [the hospital] is able to accommodate the flood victims," he said.

The SA Weather Service said more rain was expected in Limpopo and Mpumalanga on Monday.

"There is a warning for heavy falls in Mpumalanga and Limpopo for today, but it will improve later in the afternoon," forecaster William Msianga said.

No rain was expected in the rest of country until Thursday.

In Mpumalanga, gravel roads and some camps inside the Kruger National Park (KNP) remained closed on Monday because of heavy rains.

"Several camps and gravel roads have been closed since Saturday and remain closed. It is still raining heavily.... We are told that the rain is expected to stop on Wednesday," said KNP spokesman Ike Phaahla.

Three children were killed when their homes collapsed during rain in Limpopo over the weekend, a spokesman said on Sunday.

Vhembe district municipality spokesman Matodzi Mulaudzi said the municipality's disaster management team received reports about the deaths of two boys and a girl on Sunday morning.

Mpumalanga police spokesman Colonel Leonard Hlathi said three people were killed when lightning struck their houses in Piet Retief during thunderstorms on Saturday morning.

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