Devastating floods leave 8 dead, 5 missing in Mpumalanga, South Africa


At least eight people lost their lives while five others remain missing as of Sunday, February 7, 2021, as torrential rains continue to hit parts of Mpumalanga in South Africa, triggering devastating floods. Further heavy downpour is expected over the coming days.

Torrential heavy rains have been wreaking havoc in parts of Mpumalanga since early February, resulting in severe flooding. Among the affected areas include Thaba Chweu, Bushbuckridge, and Mkhondo, with Kanyamazane in Mbombela as the worst-hit.

Many roads and bridges collapsed in the area, while houses were washed away by flooding. Motorists were redirected to other routes. 

At least eight people died while five others remain missing as of Sunday. A search operation is underway, according to George Mthethwa, spokesperson of the provincial Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA).

Among the missing victims was a 13-year-old boy, who was seen riding a horse before he disappeared in Donkerhoek. 

"It is possible that the boy might have drowned," said Mthethwa. "The horse was found just yesterday. The search operation by police drivers continues."

"The eight deceased have been handed over to families for burials," he added.

More heavy downpours are expected for the province in the coming days. According to Mandla Msibi with COGTA, vacating the flood-vulnerable areas will reduce the impact of heavy rain, which has already left a trail of devastation.

Most rivers and dams are above 90 percent full, Msibi added, and communities in those areas remain at high risk of being swept away.

"The number of people who cross our rivers and dams is a serious cause for concern. We also observe with concern motorists who put the lives of people [in danger ]by crossing bridges submerged under the water. We implore communities not to tolerate such delinquencies to prevent tragedies."

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Featured image credit: Lien Mlotshwa/YouTube


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