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Disastrous floods cause evacuations and road closures in South Africa’s Western Cape

Disastrous floods cause evacuations and road closures in South Africa's Western Cape

Heavy rainfall and the bursting of river banks led to severe flooding in the Western Cape area of South Africa from September 23 to 25, 2023. The disaster resulted in multiple fatalities, thousands of evacuations, and significant infrastructure damage.

Following the South Africa Weather Service’s warnings of potential widespread flooding and damaging winds from September 23 to 26, the Western Cape experienced devastating floods that left a significant portion of the area disrupted.

All major roadways, including the N1, N2, R60, and R62, were closed due to heavy rain and flooding, causing a massive interruption in regular activities. Specifically, the Bot River broke its banks in the town of Botrivier, affecting large stretches of the N2 highway and rendering it completely inaccessible.

Local news agencies reported a distressing incident where a bus overturned on Jakes Gerwel Drive in Cape Town. The accident resulted in three fatalities and 21 injuries.

Adding to the urgency, the township of Mfuleni, located about 30 km (18 miles) from Cape Town, suffered severe flooding after the Kuils River burst its banks. Data from the Ground Up News Agency indicated that approximately 2 000 families were forced to evacuate their homes due to the flooding. One individual lost their life to electrocution in the floodwater, and further evacuations were also reported in Faure and Sandvlei.

The Overberg District Municipality revealed several alarming numbers regarding missing persons and rescues. Two individuals were found dead in Villiersdorp and Botriver bridge after being swept away by floodwaters. An additional 37 individuals were rescued in various areas, including Elgin Timbers and areas along the flooding Klein River. Emergency services made four notable rescues of individuals who took refuge on building rooftops in Greyton.

On September 25, Western Cape Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning MEC Anton Bredell briefed on a particularly troubling situation in Groot Brakrivier. A road and a vehicle were washed away, leaving one person rescued but another missing.

Emergency operations were further stretched as six children were rescued from flooded homes in Strand. An emergency evacuation was also carried out in Sir Lowry’s Pass Village, targeting residents of a building at risk of collapse due to the floods.

The extent of the overall damage is still being assessed.


1 South Africa – Evacuations, Rescues and Road Chaos After Storms and Floods in Western Cape – FloodList – September 26, 2023

Featured image credit: Cape Agulhas Municipality


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