South Africa has declared a state of national disaster Monday night after floods caused by heavy rains in recent days have already left seven people dead and others missing, according to disaster management centers in several provinces.
“The government has declared a state of national disaster to enable a sustained and coordinated response to the impact of the floods,” the presidency said in a statement.
A national toll has not yet been released. But the bad weather threatens 7 provinces out of 9 that the country has, mainly on the east coast, open to the Indian Ocean.
At least five people died in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN, south-east), according to Nonala Ndlovu, spokeswoman of the disaster management center of the coastal province to AFP.
Among them is a newborn baby, who died in the flooding of a house, according to a statement. And several people are missing after trying to cross a flooded river.
Two other people were killed in the neighboring northeastern province of Mpumalanga, according to local authorities.
In Limpopo (north), a province bordering Zimbabwe, damage was reported to a hospital.
Roads and bridges were damaged and cars were washed away.
“Farmers have suffered crop and livestock losses,” the president’s office said in a statement. The bad weather will require the provision of “temporary shelter, food and blankets to people who have lost their homes, as well as costly and large-scale rehabilitation of infrastructure.”
The National Weather Centre is predicting “persistent and heavy” rains ahead, with the risk of flooding due to “waterlogged soils and saturated rivers”.
South Africa experienced the worst flooding in its history last year, mainly affecting Durban (KZN), the country’s third largest city and a major port on the continent. Heavy rains triggered impressive mudslides that swept away people, bridges, roads and entire buildings.
The storms killed more than 400 people and affected more than 85,000.