SAVING LIVES: Paramedics and police rescue team members bring nine people to safety after they were trapped by the swollen Umbilo River as rains twice the monthly average hit the eThekweni area. Picture: Chris Botha
Kim Helfrich and Sapa
Heavy rain and subsequent flooding in the province have caused havoc both in terms of lives lost, people missing and disruptions to transport infrastructure.
Yesterday, three children died when shacks collapsed in Chatsworth’s Bayview informal settlement and in Clermont township.
The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) was called in to help in the search for six children and an adult who went missing after they were trapped on an island in the swollen Umzinto River near Durban.
Three other people were rescued from the iFafa Club Marina Resort, NSRI’s Craig Lambinon said, adding police had brought another three people to safety in KwaMashu.
“They had apparently climbed onto scaffolding to escape flood water on a construction site after abandoning their vehicle.”
The worst incident of flood damage to date in the current round of heavy rain washaways saw a section of the south coast railway line at Amanzimtoti collapse, taking a pair of diesel locomotives and a truck laden with sawn timber into the massively swollen Amanzimtoti River. “Our paramedics found four wet, cold and traumatised people at Amanzimtoti station. They were stabilised and taken to the nearby Netcare Kingsway Hospital for further care,” Netcare 911 spokesperson Chris Botha said.
“The erosion of the rail line foundation by torrential rain saw the locos and truck plunge several metres into the flooding river.”
In another flood-related incident, Netcare paramedics working with the SAPS rescue team yesterday saved nine homeless people from drowning.
They were apparently using the M4 bridge as a night shelter when the river came down in flood and trapped them.
“A rope system was hastily installed to bring all nine to safety after the first rescue using rope lines across the Umbilo River safely brought one man to solid ground,” Botha said.
Large parts of the east coast province have been subjected to unusually heavy rain over the past week, creating transport and other problems for residents and businesses. Also affected was last weekend’s Mandela Championship golf tournament at the Royal Durban Golf Club. Atrocious weather conditions saw players complete only two of the scheduled four rounds.
“The area (around Greyville race course) has experienced unusual amounts of rain recently,” the club said in a statement.
“Durban’s average annual rainfall is just over 1000mm, about 89mm a month. The wettest month is usually February with 128mm. September, October and November saw the golf course on the receiving end of 735mm, more than twice the monthly average.”