Storm death toll rises to 51 in S. Africa

Source: Xinhua| 2019-04-24 18:42:27|Editor: Shi Yinglun
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CAPE TOWN, April 24 (Xinhua) -- The death toll from severe storms in South Africa has risen to 51, authorities said on Wednesday.

All the deaths were reported in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Province where heavy storms have battered various parts of the province since Monday night, the provincial department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs (COGTA) said in its latest update on casualties caused by the storms.

The storms have left behind a trail of destruction and displaced hundreds of people, the department said, adding that five people remain unaccounted for.

Rescuers will continue searching for survivors, the department said, indicating that the death toll might rise.

The department said earlier that at least 32 people had been killed.

The Eastern Cape province also experienced severe weather conditions. In Port St Johns in the Eastern Cape, serious flooding prompted the South African Air Force to dispatch helicopters to assist with rescue operations.

Also on Wednesday, President Cyril Ramaphosa arrived in the KwaZulu-Natal province to visit the affected areas, after returning from Egypt where he attended the African Union Troika Summit on the changing situations in Libya and Sudan.

Ramaphosa expressed his personal sadness at the loss of lives and damage to property.

"As South Africans, the entire nation's thoughts and prayers are with the people of KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape who have been affected by the forces of nature against which they had little defence.

"Our hearts go out particularly to families and communities who have been directly affected by death, injury and the loss of property. This situation calls on all of us to pull together as a country to reach out to affected communities and to help alleviate their hardship," Ramaphosa said.

The president lauded the response of provincial authorities and national agencies to the calamity, as well as the support and goodwill - material and otherwise - provided by various sectors of civil society.

He reiterated the call made by the government for community members to avoid crossing low-lying bridges, streams and rivers; and for motorists to exercise caution and avoid driving in flooded areas.