Death toll in South Africa passes 300 following several days of floods

African southeast coast’s weather worsening due to global warming, scientists say

Residents of South Africa's coastal province of KwaZulu-Natal were picking up the pieces on Thursday after one of the worst floods in recent history ravaged the area, killing more than 300 people and displacing hundreds.

The province was declared a disaster area on Wednesday after heavy rains over the weekend flooded homes, washed away roads and bridges and disrupted shipping in one of Africa’s busiest ports, with shipping containers washed away and in some areas looted.

“It is bad, it is bad. We don’t have anything. I don’t even have a bed,” Somi Malizole, a resident of Isiphingo informal settlement, told Reuters as he inspected his corrugated iron shack whose contents had washed away.

Another Isiphingo resident, Akhona Mfencane, who was seeking shelter at a community centre, said she fled her house after it was flooded and she was left with nothing.

As of Thursday, Ms Mfencane was still waiting for help from the government. “The place is always flooding but this time around it was worse, we have never seen it like that before,” said Ms Mfencane. “It flooded everywhere.”

Africa’s southeastern coast is on the front line of seaborne weather systems that scientists believe are worsening because of global warming. They expect the situation to get far worse in the decades to come.

South African president Cyril Ramaphosa, who visited the province on Wednesday to assess the damage and console bereaved families, described the disaster as "a catastrophe of enormous proportions", adding it was "obviously part of climate change".

"We no longer can postpone what we need to do, the measures we need to take to deal with climate change. Our disaster management capability needs to be at a higher level," Mr Ramaphosa said, without elaborating, as he addressed a crowd in Ntuzuma township in Durban. – Reuters