Hundreds of people were killed by torrential rain and flooding on the eastern coast of South Africa on Wednesday, causing extensive damage to roadways and decimating entire neighborhoods.
KwaZulu-regional Natal’s government tweeted that the tragedy was “one of the darkest moments in the province’s history.”.
According to a statement from the government, “we join with the families in mourning the lives that we have lost as a result of the heavy rains”. “We would like to thank disaster management teams for their tireless efforts in evacuating affected communities,” the statement reads.
When the rains came, KwaZulu-Natal, which includes Durban, was inundated. News agency images show that roads were cracked and fissured, and a huge stack of shipping containers fell into muddy waters.
People were left stranded on either side of a bridge that was washed away near Durban, South Africa.
KwaZulu-Natal has experienced extreme rainfall since Monday in what the provincial government called “one of the worst weather storms in the history of our country” in a statement posted to Facebook.
“The heavy rainfall that has descended on our land over the past few days, has wreaked untold havoc and unleashed massive damage to lives and infrastructure,” it said.
The provincial government said later that it continues to work with the national government to ensure that relief is provided to all those that have been affected.
Sipho Hlomuka, a member of the Executive Council for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs in KwaZulu-Natal, said on Twitter that teams were working to evacuate residents from areas affected by “mudslides, flooding and structural collapses of buildings and roads.”
There are “technical teams working around the clock to restore power in many municipalities,” Hlomuka stated.
Mxolisi Kaunda, Mayor of the eThekwini Municipality, told reporters that power stations were inaccessible and water mains had been damaged.
Private and religious organizations were asked to assist in emergency relief efforts by the local authorities and South Africa’s National Defense Force, he said.
A series of tropical storms and cyclones battered other parts of southern Africa in the months preceding this latest bout of extreme weather. According to the official death toll, 230 people died and 1 million were affected.
Extreme weather events are more likely to occur due to climate change according to the World Weather Attribution (WWA) project, which studies how climate change affects extreme weather.
On Tuesday, Friederike Otto, a climate scientist at Imperial College London, said, “Again we are seeing how the people who have the least responsibility for climate change are bearing the brunt of the impacts.” Otto was referring to the recent storms in southern Africa.
It’s time for rich countries to honor their promises and increase much-needed funding for adaptation and compensation for those whose lives have been ruined by climate change, she said.
The COP27 conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, in November is expected to be a major sticking point in international climate negotiations.
According to scientists, in order to avoid some of climate change’s more irreversible effects, global warming must be limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by the year 2100. At least 1.2 degrees Celsius has already been added to the planet’s temperature.
Temperature increases of 2 degrees are expected to cause an increase in heavy rain and flooding, and an increase in the intensity of strong tropical cyclones, which are associated with heavier rainfall..