South African President Cyril Ramaphosa after his visit to the flood victims, he pledged to help the affected individuals, as the death toll rose to 306 from heavy rains that washed out roads and disrupted shipping in one of Africa’s busiest ports.
Ramaphosa visited families who had lost loved ones in KwaZulu-Natal province, including a family with four children, after floods and mudslides ravaged their homes on Tuesday.
“You’re not alone, We’ll do everything in our power to see how we can help,” Ramaphosa said. “Even though your hearts are in pain, we’re here for you.”
A statement late Wednesday by the Department of Cooperative Governance for KwaZulu-Natal, said the death toll had reached 306, adding that municipal services like electricity, water and refuse removal had been resumed in some areas.
“You’re battling one of the biggest incidents we’ve seen and we thought this only happens in other countries like Mozambique or Zimbabwe,” Ramaphosa told the victims.
A report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in February warned that humanity was far from ready even for the climate change that is already baked into the system by decades of fossil fuel-burning and deforestation. It urged the world to ramp up investments in adaptation.
“None of this is surprising but it’s absolutely devastating. Can you imagine the cost to people’s lives? The roads, the ports. It’s massive,” Melissa Fourie, a commissioner on Ramaphosa’s Presidential Climate Commission and head of the Centre for Environmental Rights, told Reuters.
“In South Africa, we’re still talking about the transition from fossil fuels as if it were optional. We have to stop (burning them). And have to start preparing for the climate change that we already have.”