Five Zimbabweans have been confirmed dead after heavy rains caused flash floods and mudslides in South Africa’s KwaZulu Natal Province last week.
South African authorities say the floods have killed 443 people while 63 more people are still missing.
Search and rescue operations are currently underway in various parts of the province but officials have conceded that some bodies may never be found.
Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to South Africa, David Hamadziripi, confirmed the death of five Zimbabweans and expressed his condolences to the families of the departed. He said:
The search and rescue operations are continuing. The Consul-General, Mrs (Melody) Chaurura returned from Durban on Monday.
She had positive confirmation of five Zimbabweans who died as a result of the floods.
We await further information from the police on any other Zimbabweans who might have fallen victim to the floods.
Hamadziripi added that the embassy was in the process of identifying and notifying the victims’ next of kin.
Meanwhile, South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday night declared the KwaZulu-Natal floods a national state of disaster. He said:
The significance of the port of Durban and related infrastructure for the effective operation of the country’s economy means that this disaster has implications far beyond the province of KwaZulu-Natal.
… [the declaration of the national state of disaster] is to ensure an effective response across all spheres of government to the extreme weather events and conditions that have occurred in several parts of the country.
The primary responsibility to coordinate and manage the disaster is assigned to the national sphere of government, working closely with provincial governments and municipalities.