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Six die in Christmas Eve KZN flood, with Level 2 warnings of more heavy rain in five provinces

Six die in Christmas Eve KZN flood, with Level 2 warnings of more heavy rain in five provinces
The heavy rains on Christmas Eve resulted in the Bell’s Spruit, which runs under the Mbonontathu Bridge, bursting its banks. (Photos: X, formerly known as Twitter @kzngov)

At least six people died and 10 were missing after a flood on Christmas Eve in KwaZulu-Natal. The SA Weather Service has issued a Level 2 warning until Wednesday in five of the country’s nine provinces.

On Christmas Day, the South African Weather Service (Saws) issued a Level 2 warning for severe thunderstorms in five provinces until Wednesday, 27 December.  

The evening before, six people were killed following a destructive flash flood at Bell’s Spruit and Kliprivier in Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal. On Tuesday, 10 people from the area were still missing.

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube said: “It is with profound sadness and a heavy heart that I extend my deepest condolences and sympathies to the families of victims who lost their lives due to the heavy rains on Christmas Eve that resulted in the Bell’s Spruit, which runs under the Mbonontathu Bridge, bursting its banks, causing water to overflow on to the N11 road near the Limit Hill robots in Ladysmith.”

 

Providing more details in a subsequent statement, the KZN department of Cooperative Government and Traditional Affairs said that the flash flood caused caused severe damage to infrastructure, and several vehicles were swept away. “Additionally, one household located near a Caravan Park was completely destroyed. Sadly, three family members were swept away. During the search and rescue operation, one family member was found deceased, while the other two are still missing.”

“At the time of the incident, three vehicles were said to have been travelling on the N11 and were swept away. According to information gathered by our disaster teams, a double cab was carrying nine passengers. Three of them were found deceased inside the vehicle, while the other six remain missing,” said the statement. One body was discovered in a light vehicle that had been carrying two passengers, with one person remaining missing. Another body was found in the third vehicle – a light bakkie Bantam – that had been carrying two people, with the search to resume for the other occupant of the vehicle.

Ladysmith had been historically susceptible to flooding due to its location in a floodplain along the catchment area.

While search and rescue operations continued in Ladysmith, Saws forecast heavy rain that could lead to flooding in Gauteng, North West, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo. 

“We are expecting disruptive rain. Level 2 means there is a high likelihood of it happening, but should there be any damage the impact of it should be minor. We have the warning up until tomorrow [Wednesday],” said Saws forecaster Lehlohonolo Thobela.

Emergency services were on high alert in Gauteng.

Robert Mulaudzi, the Johannesburg EMS spokesperson, said: “So far, no major incidents have occurred throughout the City of Johannesburg. However, we still remain on high alert monitoring all regions of the city, especially our low-lying areas. Residents are urged to avoid crossing river streams. Motorists are advised to not cross low-lying bridges.” 

City of Tshwane EMS spokesperson Charles Mabaso said the only weather-related incident in Tshwane was “in Centurion at Rabie and End streets where the low water bridge was closed by the community policing forum because the water level was high”. DM

This is a developing story and may be updated.

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