South Africa – KwaZulu-Natal Disaster Management teams have swiftly responded to the disaster caused by devastating thunderstorms in and around Dundee, under Umzinyathi District, following inclement weather that wreaked havoc on Monday night .
According to the Provincial Disaster Management Centre preliminary reports, a thunderstorm, which lasted about 45 minutes, swept through Sithembile Township, outside Dundee, tragically claiming one life – an adult male who was struck by lightning and later succumbed to his injuries .
Six people were also injured as roofs and walls collapsed on top of them .
Some victims were rushed to hospital, while others received treatment in their homes .
The provincial Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) department said the damage caused includes flooding in numerous households within the township and fallen trees resulting in blocked roads .
“There was also significant damage to infrastructure, including roads, fences, and bridges .
Several businesses suffered losses, including farmers who lost livestock and crops .
“Assessments indicate that about 173 households were damaged, affecting 1 211 people .
The teams are still on the ground conducting further assessments,” the department said .
Meanwhile, another incident of destruction was also recorded in areas under Umgungundlovu District Municipality, where a few houses were damaged in different local municipalities .
The department said no injuries or fatalities were reported to date, and assessments are also ongoing in the affected areas .
KwaZulu-Natal CoGTA MEC Bongiwe Sithole-Moloi has extended her heartfelt condolences to the grieving family and wished a speedy recovery to all people who sustained injuries .
Sithole-Moloi has encouraged all disaster management centres in the municipalities to continue conducting assessments and to help people affected by the incidents .
The MEC assured that the disaster response teams will continue to provide relief to the affected families .
Concerns about recurring devastating rains
Meanwhile, Sithole-Moloi has raised the department’s concerns about the recurring devastating rains in the province, saying it is an alarming indication of the impact of global warming .
She said the department has been issuing weather warnings and recently launched a Multi-Agency Disaster Awareness campaign, collaborating with various stakeholders to raise awareness, mitigate risks, and respond effectively to disasters .
“While some weather incidents are unavoidable, we encourage our residents to heed warnings and relocate to safer areas when advised .
We have also collaborated with other departments, such as Social Development and Human Settlements, to ensure that the victims receive support in different forms .
“Our teams have distributed blankets, plastic sheets, mattresses, and food parcels to the affected families as part of the relief efforts .
Public facilities such as community halls have been made available for temporary shelter, although no families have opted for this option,” Sithole-Moloi said .