'It was important to come' - Ramaphosa as relief funds released for flood-stricken areas
President Cyril Ramaphosa has visited affected areas that were ravaged by floods in the KwaZulu-Natal area on Wednesday, conveying condolences to those who lost loved ones while announcing that relief funds would be allocated.
The president also assessed damages caused by the floods and laid a wreath at the site where a house collapsed in Chatsworth, killing seven family members.
Heavy rains hit the province at the start of the week, while the Eastern Cape town of Port St Johns reported that low-lying areas had been flooded by heavy rains.
Ramaphosa was accompanied by Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister, Zweli Mkhize, Police Minister Bheki Cele and eThekwini mayor, Zandile Gumede amongst other officials.
"It was important to come and see what has happened [and] we pass our condolences to the families of those who have died in this disaster. We are saddened by what has happened here. The loss of life is never easy, especially when so unexpected," Ramaphosa said.
Ramaphosa said he had been given the green light by National Treasury that there are emergency funds available to assist affected families. "Money will be mobilised to assist our people. These are emergencies that are budgeted for, so resources will be mobilised in the biggest way so that people currently in need are assisted," said Ramaphosa.
"We want to commend rescue services at all levels of government for their rapid response. Resources have been mobilized and our teams on the ground have saved lives. More than 1000 people have been displaced and government is providing shelter and support to those in need."
Mkhize said a task team will be deployed to assess the infrastructure damage caused. At least 51 people have been confirmed dead following heavy rains and flooding. Others have been left injured and displaced.
KZN Cooperative Governance MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube reportedly said that more bodies had been discovered under the rubble as rescue operations continued throughout Tuesday night.
Members of the public have been urged to identify their loved ones at various KZN mortuaries, News24 reported.
On Tuesday, people's homes had been swallowed by raging floods, while scores of others have been misplaced in Port St Johns in the Eastern Cape, forcing them to take refuge in community halls and churches.
On Wednesday morning, the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) said operations on its Metrorail service remained suspended.
At the same time, South Africans have, on social media rallied to assist affected areas with clothing, blankets and food supplies.