22 January 2013

South Africa: Emergency Services Search for Limpopo Flood Victims

The body of an eight-year-old boy who drowned into the Mlumati River in Nkomazi, Mpumalanga has been recovered. The grade three pupil drowned three ... ( Resource: Body of Drowned Boy Recovered in Mpumalanga )

Musina — A multi-faceted team has been dispatched to find victims of the floods that have devastated some parts of Limpopo, following heavy rains across the country.

The team comprises police divers, the fire brigade, officials from the South African National Defence Force, the South African Air force, the Red Cross, the provincial disaster management office and emergency medical services (EMS).

"Since last week, the heavy rains have killed 10 people in the Vhembe and Mopani Districts, either through drowning or the collapsing of houses. We currently have [this team] on site helping us manage the situation," said the provincial Department of Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs spokesperson Dieketseng Diale on Tuesday.

Diale said Limpopo police had reported that two boys and a girl were killed on Sunday morning when two houses collapsed in two separate areas in the Vhembe District.

She said police divers were still searching for three of the four victims who drowned in the Limpopo River over the weekend in Musina.

She said her Departmental MEC Clifford Motsepe teamed up with Agriculture MEC Jacob Marule and Health and Social Development MEC Dr Norman Mabasa on Monday, where they visited some of the affected areas to assess the situation.

"Most of the villages are not accessible in the Vhembe and Mopani District because the rains damaged infrastructure in most areas. Most bridges are cut off and communities, including learners, are disadvantaged as they cannot go to work or schools because of the situation," Diale said.

Diale said the Red Cross' Army Mercy Service helicopters were still continuing to rescue people who were trapped on rooftops.

"We are currently not sure how many people are affected, but the assessment team is still busy conducting an assessment. The identified damage requires urgent attention," added Diale.

She said the provincial government would give affected people 2 500 blankets, 70 tents and food parcels as temporary intervention.

"We would also like to send out a strong message to members of the public that they must never try to walk, swim or drive in swift flowing water, even in the water. They must also not drive over a low water bridge if the water is flowing strong across it. Disaster management is everybody's business," she said.

Diale added that in case of any disaster, members of the public should report incidents to their district offices or provincial disaster management centre on the toll free number 0800 222 111.

"For missing persons during disaster, members of the public should report the incidents to their nearest police stations," said Diale.

Four border posts in the province have already been closed due to the heavy rains. These include Pontdrift, Zanzibar, and Platjan on the Botswana border and Pafuri in the northern Kruger National Park on the Mozambican border.

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