South Africa – Homes Destroyed, Lives Lost After Floods in KwaZulu-Natal Province

Several people have lost their lives and dozens of homes have been destroyed after flash flooding in areas of KwaZulu-Natal Province in South Africa.

Severe weather including strong winds and heavy rain began on 27 June 2023. In a 24-hour period to 28 June, the community of Paddock in Ugu District recorded 176 mm of rain, while Sezela, also in Ugu District recorded 84 mm. During the same period Mount Edgecombe in eThekwini, the Greater Durban Metropolitan area, recorded 72 mm of rain.

Emergency services carried out dozens of interventions across eThekwini on 28 June 2023. Members of the Reaction Unit South Africa (RUSA) rescued people from flooded homes in Phoenix and Verulam. Flooded roads resulted in traffic delays and several motorists between Phoenix and Verulam were stranded after their vehicles became submerged in water.

One person was reported missing and is presumed to have drowned while attempting to cross a flooded river in Zwelisha. Search and Rescue teams from RUSA were deployed to the areas but searches have been unsuccessful.

Search and Rescue teams from RUSA searched for a herdsmen swept away while attempting to cross a flooded river in Zwelisha, KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa, on 28 June 2023. Photo: Reaction Unit South Africa June 2023

The Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Department of KwaZulu-Natal Province reported a total of 4 people had lost their lives as of early 29 June 2023, including three in eThekwini and one in Ugu District, where 4 people were also injured. Local media later reported 3 more bodies were discovered along the Umbilo River in eThwekwini, bringing the unconfirmed death toll to seven.

The flooding caused widespread damage to homes, public buildings and agriculture. Provincial authorities said 70 houses were destroyed and 110 damaged in eThwekwini Metro, where a total of 552 people were affected and 151 people left homeless. In the Ugu District Municipality, one house was destroyed while three others suffered partial damages affecting 29 people. One person was left homeless.

Ten school buildings were damaged in Pinetown District. Hundreds of livestock have perished. The heavy rains also resulted in pollution at Blue Lagoon Beach in Durban, caused by debris from the Umgeni River.

On 28 June the South African Weather Service (SAWS) confirmed a landspout event in the Inanda and Phoenix area.

A landspout near Inanda in KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa 28 June 2023. Photo: Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs in KwaZulu-Natal