She added, “The heavy rains that fell on our land in the past few days have caused untold destruction and inflicted severe damage to lives and infrastructure.”
Sifu Hlumuka, a member of the Executive Board for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs in KwaZulu-Natal, said on Twitter on Tuesday that teams are evacuating people in areas that have experienced “mudslides, floods and structural collapses of buildings and roads”.
“Heavy rains affected the power lines in many municipalities, as technical teams are working around the clock to restore the electricity,” Hlomoka added.
Power stations were flooded and inaccessible in the hard-hit I Thekwini municipality, Mayor Mxulisi Kaunda told reporters, while water pipes were also damaged.
He said the local government has asked private and religious institutions to assist in emergency relief operations, and has requested assistance from the South African National Defense Forces to provide air support.
The extreme weather comes just months after torrential rain and flooding hit other parts of South Africa, with three tropical cyclones and two tropical storms over the course of just six weeks from late January. 230 deaths were reported and 1 million people affected.
Scientists from the World Weather Attribution (WWA) project — which analyzes the extent to which the climate crisis contributes to an extreme weather event — found that climate change made those events more likely.
“Once again we see how the people least responsible for climate change bear the brunt of the impacts,” WWA’s Frederic Otto, of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment at Imperial College London, said Tuesday, referring to the former. Storms in South Africa.
“Rich countries must honor their commitments, increase much-needed funding for adaptation, and compensate victims of extreme events caused by climate change with compensation for losses and damages,” she added.
The extreme weather events in South Africa come with rising tensions between some developed and developing countries over who should pay for the damages and impacts of the climate crisis. This is expected to be a major sticking point in the upcoming international climate negotiations, the COP27 conference in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt in November.
Scientists have warned that the world should try to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures, some 200 years ago, to stave off some of the irreversible effects of climate change. Earth is already about 1.2 degrees warmer.