South African President Cyril Ramaphosa visited on Wednesday bereaved families in the eastern coastal city of Durban affected by devastating floods after record rains, which have killed about sixty people, AFP journalists noted.
In Clermont, a poor suburb of the port city open to the Indian Ocean, he promised state aid to a family that lost four children, who died on Monday night under the rubble of a section of their house that collapsed.
With clasped hands, the father told the head of state about the water rising in the middle of the night, the panic in the dark with the electricity cut off, and his children asleep in another room that he was unable to save.
“I had to come and see the damage for myself,” said the head of state, who was to continue his visit to several areas severely affected by the waters.
“We see similar tragedies hit Mozambique, Zimbabwe, but today it is us who are hit,” he added, speaking in a local language.
According to rescue workers who described it as a “nightmare”, the death toll is likely to rise further. Local authorities are calling for a state of natural disaster to be declared.
Last night, new rainfall brought the level of rainfall to more than 450 mm in the last 48 hours in some areas, “a very significant level”, according to the forecaster of the National Meteorological Institute, Dipuo Tawana.
Some areas of the province have received rainfall in recent days at a level not seen in more than 60 years.
In the morning, however, a respite allowed residents of Durban to begin clearing roads and debris from a devastated landscape.
Collapsed bridges, ravaged roads, the floods have affected more than 140 schools and thousands of homes, according to local authorities. The heavy rains have also caused power cuts and disrupted water supplies.