At least eleven dead as floods take their toll

At least eleven people, including a five-year-old boy, have died in incidents related to heavy rainfall in the Eastern Cape according to provincial Disaster Management.

Disaster Management’s Captain John Fobian said among those the eleven confirmed drownings was a five-year-old boy from Buffalo Flats who had fallen into a stream on Sunday. His body was recovered an hour later near Duncan Village.

Fobian said an 11-year-old child had also drowned on Saturday after being swept away while crossing a river near Mthatha. He said four other people had also died in Mthatha, Kleinskool, Horseshoe Valley and Coffee Bay, while crossing rivers.

Last week a police officer and two relatives were travelling across the Cebula bridge when their car was washed away. Their bodies were later recovered. A Witteklip resident came across the body of a woman on the bank of the Van Stadens River gorge. Fobian said it was believed she had also died while attempting to cross the river higher upstream.

With regards to traffic Fobian said the Coastal route between Port Elizabeth and East London, the R72, had been reopened to light vehicles, but that any trucks, heavy or articulated vehicles were requested to still make use of the route via the N10 and then through Bedford, taking the R360 to Grahamstown or the R63 to Fort Beaufort and East London.

He said there were still reports of mudslides on the R72 and the roads, specifically around Boknes and Port Alfred were in bad condition due to flooding.

Fobian said the SA National Roads Agency, along with various contractors were busy inspecting the area of the N2 where a giant sink hole measuring at least 25m wide and 50m deep had formed, completely engulfing a section of the road and preventing any thoroughfare.

It is estimated that the road will take around three months to repair.

Fobian said while rain had for the most part abated, areas were still saturated and requested people to exercise caution, especially when crossing low level bridges or streams.