South Africa floods and mudslides kill 33, children missing

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The death toll from floods and mudslides that crushed homes in the South African port of Durban on Tuesday has risen to 33, with reports of children missing and scores of people displaced, authorities said.

"Heavy rains have since claimed 33 lives so far," Nomusa Dube-Ncube, a KwaZulu-Natal provincial minister, said in a statement. Among those killed were a six-month-old baby and a child aged around 10.


She added that ten children are missing in Durban and 42 people have been injured.

An AFP photographer saw two of the nine bodies - including that of a small child -being pulled out of a house belonging to a school caretaker in Westcliff, a working-class suburb on the outskirts of Durban.

The victims were buried under a wall that had collapsed on them while they were sleeping. At least 145 people have been displaced, the government said.

A Hindu temple in the city was entirely flooded with water levels of up to 10 meters (33 feet), the photographer reported. Heavy rains have lashed South Africa in recent days, with the southern and eastern parts of the country badly hit since the start of Easter weekend.

"Last night the weather conditions worsened significantly," Dube-Ncube said.

The government said dozens of incidents of collapsed walls and flooded homes were reported throughout the night, as roads were also flooded. Those killed were either crushed to death by mudslides or drowned in flood waters, Rescue Care spokesman Garrith Jamieson told AFP.

Search and rescue operations have combed the debris for those who might be trapped underneath. In addition to collapsed buildings and flooded roads, sewer lines were blocked and electricity pylons had toppled over.

South African military personnel have been dispatched to help rescue and evacuation efforts. Government, political and religious groups were Tuesday handing out food parcels to the affected people.

The South African Weather Services warned that more heavy rain and gale force winds were expected until Wednesday, which could threaten low-lying bridges and roads.

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