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Weeks of heavy rains leave more than 30 fatalities in South Africa


Heavy rains affecting parts of South Africa since January 23 when Tropical Cyclone "Eloise" swept over the region has claimed more than 30 lives in the provinces of Mpumalanga, Northern Cape, Limpopo, and KwaZulu-Natal.

Eloise made landfall north of Beira, Mozambique, on Saturday, January 23, but heavy rains continued through the rest of the month and into February, leading to further flooding. Water levels on dams also continued to rise, prompting authorities to start releasing water from the Vaal Dam as of February 11.

Among the worst-hit provinces was Mpumalanga, where 10 fatalities have been confirmed by the government.

The victims died during the heavy rains that followed Eloise, which reached the province by the end of January. Most of the casualties were a result of drowning in flooded rivers.

Roads and bridges were washed away in Mbombela, Bushbuckridge, and Nkomazi, among other areas, according to the province’s Cooperative Governance Department (COGTA).

Downpours continued in the province in recent days, with Komatidraai recording about 130 mm (5 inches) of rain in a 24 hour period to February 13.

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Heavy rains brought by Eloise reached as far as Northern Cape from around January 27.

According to the provincial government, about three people lost their lives in the storm's onslaught. Flooding ravaged farms, damaged hundreds of homes, and washed away roads, particularly in the John Taolo Gaetsewe District.

As of February 12, many roads were still flooded, prompting authorities to deliver relief supplies via helicopter. About 600 million ZAR or 40 million dollars is needed for repairs of infrastructure, humanitarian relief, as well as homes and agricultural aid, the government said.

In Limpopo, at least 10 fatalities were reported by the provincial government, while seven others remain missing. Search and rescue operations are ongoing, involving the South African Police Service 

In KwaZulu-Natal, eight people lost their lives as a result of severe weather following the landfall of Eloise. Dozens of buildings were damaged, affecting around 400 people.

In a short period of time, more heavy rainfall caused flooding in other parts of the province from February 9. Areas of Ladysmith were particularly affected after the Klip River overflowed. As much as 87 mm (3.4 inches) fell in a 24 hour period to February 9.

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Featured image credit: chave weather/YouTube

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