Over the weekend, South Africa’s Western Cape province, including Cape Town, was hit by heavy rain and strong winds, resulting in a tragic toll of at least 11 fatalities and widespread destruction.
Authorities have issued warnings that the death toll may rise further as floodwaters recede.
The destructive weather wreaked havoc by inundating homes, ripping off roofs, decimating crops, and causing extensive damage to roads and other infrastructure.
Search and rescue teams continue to look for individuals feared trapped in partially submerged residences.
Eight out of the 11 reported casualties tragically succumbed to electrocution in an informal settlement as floodwaters overwhelmed illegal power connections.
In the town of Oudtshoorn, 72 primary school students and 10 adults were stranded at a resort due to the Le Roux River overflowing. They were successfully rescued on Wednesday morning after water levels subsided.
With more than 80 roads closed and around 15,000 homes without electricity, the Electricity Minister, Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, described the extent of the damage to infrastructure.
Rail services have been suspended in parts of both the Western and Eastern Cape provinces.
Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis of the City of Cape Town declared a major incident, appealing for additional resources and relief measures to address the aftermath of the heavy rainfall.
The City has temporarily closed the popular Steenbras Nature Reserve and Gorge hiking route for assessments following the floods.
Anton Bredell, a provincial cabinet minister overseeing environmental affairs, reported that helicopters were deployed to search for people who may still be trapped. “We anticipate the situation to be dire there,” he noted.
These damaging rains came a week after the area experienced higher-than-normal spring tides. Climate change has been implicated in some recent weather-related incidents in South Africa, including the devastating 2022 floods in KwaZulu-Natal, which claimed over 430 lives, and a severe water shortage crisis in the coastal city of Gqeberha last year.