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By Riot Hlatshwayo | Nov 13, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

POLICE divers were still searching for a four-year-old girl who is believed to have drowned during a heavy storm that swept parts of Mpumalanga.

The girl's mother told police she was returning from the river on Tuesday evening and was pushing her child in a wheelbarrow when a storm broke out and uprooted trees.

The mother allegedly abandoned the wheelbarrow with the child still in it and ran for her life.

Later, when the community of KwaMhlushwa in the Nkomazi area and the police went to the scene where the child had been left, she was not there.

Mpumalanga MEC for corporate governance and traditional affairs Norman Mokoena confirmed at a press conference in Mbombela that police divers were still searching for the child yesterday.

Mokoena said the storm damaged 115 houses in Langeloop, 35 of which had their roofs completely blown off. About 150 other houses were damaged in Mattafin near the 2010 Mbombela Stadium.

The storm also damaged two schools, which the department of public works would repair.

"Government officials have been dispatched to the affected areas to provide the necessary support," Mokoena said.

"As an immediate relief in Langeloop the government has provided 100 blankets, 20 tarpaulins and four tents.

"In Mattafin one household has been provided with a tent," Mokoena said.

Officials from the department of social services were planning to provide food parcels and counselling to the affected families.

The department of human settlements would provide emergency shelters, while the home affairs department would assist people whose identity documents were damaged.

"We will also engage churches and non-governmental organisations to provide soup kitchens in the affected areas," Mokoena said. "Eskom will be engaged to restore electricity in the affected areas.

He said the department had also advised all municipalities to be on full alert and on standby for any possible storms since more rain was expected as "we enter the rainy season".


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