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EXTREME WEATHER

Three people die, three missing after Eastern Cape lashed by torrential rain

Three people die, three missing after Eastern Cape lashed by torrential rain
Zosuliwe Maqhubela (17) died in floods after heavy rain in the Port St Johns area of the Eastern Cape on Monday. She was swept away while trying to cross a river. (Photos: Supplied)

One person died and three are missing after trying to cross rivers and a pregnant woman and her 11-year old son were crushed to death when their house collapsed as torrential rain and flash floods hit parts of the Eastern Cape on Monday.

Rescue workers were looking for the bodies of three people on Tuesday after they were swept away during flash floods in the Eastern Cape following a torrential downpour the day before.

Two learners from Ngqeleni died while trying to cross the Phompe River which flooded after schools closed early due to the deluge. 

The body of one learner was recovered on Tuesday. 

Zosuliwe Maqhubela (17) was a Grade 9 learner at Mayibenye Junior Secondary School in Ngqeleni.

Zosuliwe drowned while trying to cross the swollen Phompo River in the Maqebevu area of Ngqeleni. The area is near Port St Johns. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: Port St Johns residents on high alert after heavy downpours stoke fresh fears of severe flooding

Her parents said she was with two schoolmates, both of whom managed to survive.

The victim’s father, Zeblon Maqhubela, said he was devastated by the death of his daughter.

“She was coming from her school with two other learners but unfortunately when she tried to cross the river she was swept away by the water,” he said.

floods eastern cape

Houses collapsed in many villages of the eastern part of the Eastern Cape on Monday as a severe storm swept through the area. (Photo: Supplied)

“Another girl was also swept away by the flood but managed to escape and call for help.”

Maqhubela said he was unemployed and would struggle financially to bury his daughter.

“I still cannot believe she died like this,” he said.

In a second incident in the Nkumandeni Administrative Area, police spent Tuesday searching for another 17-year-old swept away by the floods. Her parents declined to speak to Daily Maverick as the girl had not yet been found.

floods eastern cape

Several roads in the Amathole District Municipality were flooded after torrential rain on Monday. (Photo: Supplied)

According to a local community leader, police divers would begin searching for the teenager on Wednesday as they were waiting for their colleagues to arrive from East London.

They have managed to find the victim’s jersey.

Tragedy also struck the community of Rainy Location (Ward 31).

A house where a pregnant 32-year-old woman was living with her 11-year-old son collapsed on them during the storm, the municipality said in a statement. Both were killed.

In Centane, several bridges were submerged and homes collapsed.

Amathole District Municipality spokesperson Nonceba Madikizela-Vuso said two young men were reported missing after they tried to cross a river in flood.

floods eastern cape

Houses in the Amathole District Municipality were damaged by the severe storm that ripped through the Centane area. (Photo: Supplied)

The men, aged 19 and 20, from Kantolo Village in Centane, are believed to have drowned while crossing the Khobonqaba River. They had been on their way home.

Community members, the police, members of the police’s dog unit and rescue divers were searching for the men on Tuesday.

Madikizela-Vuso said several homes in the area, including at Mbhashe and Xhora Mouth, were damaged by the storm. Roads in Mbhashe, Amahlathi (Stutterheim) and Ngqushwa Local Municipalities (Peddie, Bira and Hamburg) have also been affected.

She said Hamburg Village was cut off and work was under way to re-establish access to the town. Flooded bridges also cut off communities living in villages around Xhora Mouth. DM

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