12-year-old raises KZN storm death toll to 14

Mary Papayya

Mary Papayya

The death toll in the torrential rain storm that ravaged more than 10 towns along the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast more than a week ago has risen to 14.

Emergency workers removed the body of a 12-year-old girl from underneath the storm rubble in the Louisianna district.

Several rural villages still remain cut off from the big towns and food and medicine have to be flown in until bridges and roads are fixed.

"Relief workers pulled the body out from under heaps of rubble.

"It appears that she died when the house collapsed on her," said head of the Hibiscus Disaster Management Centre, Victor Chetty.

He said while a large number of the displaced and homeless have been relocated to temporary shelters in their home towns, the calls for help were still pouring in more than a week after the storm.

"Several areas are still without running water and in our rural towns, roads and bridges still remain impassable," he added.

Yesterday health officials in the province were placed on high alert to stem the outbreak of cholera and other water-borne diseases resulting from the damage.

Institutions treating the sick are on standby for a possible outbreak of cholera after doctors treated an 11-month-old baby and other patients for extreme cases of diarrhoea.

Provincial health department spokesman Chris Maxon said health officials were monitoring the situation after reports of "a suspected cholera outbreak" in the area.

"All institutions have been placed on high alert and we will be putting in place precautionary measures.

"A team of environmental officers are on site and all persons reporting with diarrhoea will be treated and monitored for cholera," said Maxon.

Displaced storm victims are living in tents in several parts of the region after heavy flooding devastated the area, leaving hundreds homeless.

While most of the homeless have been relocated to temporary tent shelters close to their homes, some families are sill being housed in church and community halls.

"The department will be distributing pre-treated water to all displaced people in the halls and surrounding communities," Maxon said.

Meanwhile, emergency work to repair roads and other infrastructure damaged in the downpour continues as provincial authorities declared the region and parts of eThekwini disaster areas.

Premier S'bu Ndebele said R3,6billion was needed to address the challenges which included road infrastructure rehabilitation, providing temporary housing to the displaced victims, supplying food, rehabilitating public facilities including schools, clinics and agricultural facilities and plantations.

"I will write to the Presidency outlining the magnitude of the disaster and the provincial resolution in this regard.

"The provincial cabinet calls on business, faith-based organisations and other stakeholders, irrespective of their party political affiliations, preferences and alliances, to support disaster relief efforts through the joint operational structure established and coordinated by the province."

"Our cabinet, represented by the MEC for finance and economic development Zweli Mkhize and local government, housing and traditional affairs MEC Michael Mabuyakhulu, will initiate talks with the Minister of Finance Trevor Manuel, to harness additional financial resources needed," Ndebele said