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South Africa braces for more flooding as rains restart in east

aftermath of flooding in kwandengezi
A view shows the remains of a building, which was destroyed during flooding

Rains that have killed around 400 people and left thousands homeless in South Africa this week began pounding the east coast again on Saturday, threatening more flooding and forcing many to take refuge in community centres and town halls.

The rains, which have left at least 40,000 people with no shelter, power or water, had died down by Friday, but are now expected to continue until early next week.

“I’m so worried,” said Gloria Linda, sheltering under a large umbrella by a muddy road in her township of Kwandengezi, about 30 kilometres (20 miles) inland from the main eastern coastal city of Durban.

This week’s heavy downpours in Kwazulu-Natal Province knocked out power lines, shut down water services and disrupted operations at one of Africa’s busiest ports of Durban, as well as closing roads leading into the city.

“A lot of people’s houses are damaged, a lot of people died. We’ve got no water, no electricity, even our phones are dead – we’re stuck,” Linda said, before meandering down a dirt track to a funeral of a friend killed by the floods.

Elsewhere, a family stood in the rain looking at their collapsed metal shack, one of several homes that lay in ruins.

State broadcaster SABC said on Saturday the death toll was now 398, with 27 people still missing. In places wrecked by flooding, many relatives were searching only to recover victims’ bodies for burial.

“We phoned the police, we phoned the ambulance, we phoned fire brigade, none of them responded in time,” Muzi Mzobe, 59, told Reuters in front of a pile of rubble — what was left of a house he was renting out to tenants who were killed in it.

“Four people were covered in rubble here, and when we got them out, they had already passed on.”

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