South Africa


KZN floods: Read these stories about the scale, science and economic impact of the devastation

Floodwaters pour through an informal settlement in Durban between the M19 and Quarry Road on 12 April 2022. Persistent heavy rain in parts of KwaZulu-Natal has resulted in widespread flooding, collapsing roads and death. (Photo: Gallo Images / Darren Stewart)

There have been drownings, landslides, power outages, water shortages and flooding of infrastructure as continuous rainfall has been battering KZN since Monday.

After days of constant rain, KwaZulu-Natal’s infrastructure, which has been under strain from years of under-investment and poor maintenance, buckled. This led to a number of drownings, landslides, power outages, water shortages and flooding of bridges, homes and businesses.

We compiled a list of articles to help you understand the scale of the humanitarian crisis, the damage to the province’s economy and the science behind the extreme weather.

Images of Hell: The death and destruction in the aftermath of the KZN floods

Photos show the scale and impact of the recent flooding in and around Durban.

A washed up van close to Umlazi, KwaZulu-Natal on 13 April 2022 following one of the deadliest floods in the province that has killed more than 250 people. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

Devastated KZN communities search for family members swept away by floodwaters

As the floodwaters slowly recede, the dead are being found. They are grandmothers, swept away while clutching a grandchild, and mothers who risked all to provide for their children.

kzn floods devastated communities
David Teka shows a shoe belonging to his friend Bulelani Ngaleka after he was swept away by floodwaters. Ngaleka and his mother, Nkosazane, and his two children, Sikelelwe (10) and Yamkela (11), are still missing. (Photo: Mandla Langa)

Ramaphosa calls KZN floods a ‘catastrophe’ as death toll climbs above 300

Just hours after President Cyril Ramaphosa ended his tour of eThekwini on Wednesday, the flooding in KwaZulu-Natal was declared a provincial disaster and gazetted as such by Dr Mmaphaka Tau, head of the National Disaster Centre.

ramaphosa floods kzn catastrophe
President Cyril Ramaphosa visits flood-stricken parts of KwaZulu-Natal on 13 April 2022 with Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele. (Photo: Kopano Tlape / GCIS)

Durban floods are a massive wake-up call: A deadly combination of climate change, corruption and ineptitude

Weather events like this week’s Durban floods are just the beginning, and freak weather phenomena such as this will become much more commonplace. Perhaps the most crucial question is how we combat this, writes Prof Tshilidzi Marwala.

A resident stands on the N3 highway and watches the destruction as shipping containers lay strewn alongside the R102, 13 April 2022. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

Tragedy in KZN as floods cause devastation, mostly for the poor in informal settlements

Civil society and humanitarian groups have called for urgent interventions in areas affected by flooding in KwaZulu-Natal, particularly informal settlements. While residents prepare for a potential further deluge, many have been left without access to water and electricity.

Water streams through Caversham road in Pinetownm Durban after the KZN floods.
Part of Caversham Road in Pinetown washed away on 12 April 2022. (Photo: Gallo Images / Darren Stewart)

Death toll mounts as KZN sinks beneath torrential rains, floods amid decimated infrastructure

Scores of people have died, suburban walls have collapsed, vehicles have ploughed into newly formed sinkholes, cemeteries have flooded and many businesses have closed temporarily.

Adding to the complexity, rescue teams across the city are cut off from each other, with major thoroughfares completely flooded, roads washed away and some bridges nearing collapse.

Residents from the informal settlement between M19 and Quarry road line up for food after the heavy rain
Residents of an informal settlement between the M19 and Quarry Road in Durban queue for food from the Food Aid Foundation on 12 April 2022. (Photo: Gallo Images / Darren Stewart)

Devastating KZN floods deal a new blow to recovering economy and businesses

Just as businesses and residents were finding their feet after July’s unrest in KwaZulu-Natal, the province was hit by torrential rains and heavy, widespread flooding.

The timing couldn’t have been worse for the province’s economy.

KZN floods - People trying to cross a river in Ntuzuma where a bridge was washed away.
People try to cross a river in Ntuzuma where a bridge has been washed away. (Photo: Mandla Langa)

UPL toxic chemical waste leaks onto Durban beaches again in heavy rains

A “pollution control dam” designed to safely capture toxic and hazardous waste residue from the gutted UPL pesticide warehouse in Durban has overflowed, releasing an unspecified quantity of chemically contaminated wastewater into the Umhlanga River and adjoining beaches north of Durban.

The UPL pollution control dam overflows amid the KZN floods
The UPL ‘pollution control’ dam overflows during heavy rains in Durban this week. (Photo: Supplied)

Captive KZN crocodiles rounded up after escaping flood-damaged enclosure

Thirteen crocodiles have been recaptured north of Durban after making a break for freedom during the mayhem of the KwaZulu-Natal floods — though one of the reptiles seems to have returned of its own volition.

From left: Staff at Crocodile Creek retrieve one of the escaped reptiles. | Crocodile Creek manager Sean Le Clus hauls a 3m crocodile up a 100m eroded slope. | A four-wheeler machine is used to haul an escaped croc back to its pond at Crocodile Creek. (Photos: Crocodile Creek)

Could the KZN flooding disaster have been mitigated by a better early warning system?

Ishmael Moyo, a forecaster at the South African Weather Service, said: “Currently we are observing what we call a low-pressure system… the system that has been dominating central parts of the country for the past few days.”

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) recent report, Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, made a number of findings germane to current events. DM

Containers are scattered across a road after the heavy rain in KZN
Containers were scattered by the floods in Prospecton, iSipingo, south of Durban. (Photo: Mandla Langa)

South Africa Halts Shipping at Key Harbor After Floods

South Africa suspended shipping at its main port in Durban after incessant heavy rains and resultant flooding damaged roads leading to the harbour.

Prospecton in iSipingo, South of Durban where containers were scattered during the flood in the area. (Photo: Mandla Langa)

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