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KZN premier thanks rescue teams as death toll continues to climb

Sihle Zikalala says 448 dead in the floods; searchers continue their grim task

KZN premier Sihle Zikalala has commended the rescue workers for the work they have done amid the devastation. File photo.
KZN premier Sihle Zikalala has commended the rescue workers for the work they have done amid the devastation. File photo.
Image: Supplied

The death toll in the floods in KwaZulu-Natal has risen to 448, while search and rescue teams continue their grim search for dozens of missing people. 

KZN premier Sihle Zikalala on Tuesday said the searchers had recovered five additional bodies.

He was speaking at Virginia airport, at the heart of KZN’s search and rescue operations. Zikalala was there to meet the disaster team members deployed from various parts of the country to help the search and rescue efforts.

“We gather to mark the work of volunteers and servicemen who have dedicated their lives to serve the people of SA,” the premier said.

Zikalala commended the team for demonstrating courage and observed a moment of silence for people who died in the floods, including rescue workers who also lost their lives while trying to help others.

“We want to thank you for crossing rivers and climbing mountains in search of the missing people. We are grateful for all the sacrifices you have made and celebrate you as heroes and heroines,” Zikalala said.

The premier said the search and rescue efforts were still under way, with six teams searching for the people still missing and unaccounted for. He encouraged the team to continue with “their important work”.

“I want to commend all of you who didn't want to wait for the national call. Most of you came even before this was declared a national state of disaster,” he said.

The premier said coping with the scale and magnitude of the flood was beyond the capabilities of the province.

“Go out there and continue to bring smiles to children and mothers — and all those who are still confused by all of this,” Zikalala said.

He thanked all the provinces,  embassies and organisations who had sent messages of support. 

Meanwhile, eThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda has appealed to people not to embark on violent protests when demanding to be reconnected to services.

His call comes as the city has seen a wave of protests from some residents who are demanding to be reconnected after disruption of services.

“Natural disasters happen. As we are reeling from deaths and devastation caused by the natural disaster in our province, we need to pull together. If residents are pulling in different directions, that is likely to derail our efforts to return the situation to normalcy. We appeal to those who instigate these protests to desist,” said Kaunda in a statement. 

He said the metro was updating the public on the status of infrastructure repairs and understood the frustrations brought about by electricity and water cuts.

— Additional reporting by Mfundo Mkhize


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