South African flood victims search for bodies of lost loved ones | world news
LINDELANI, South Africa (Reuters) – Bonakele Mtshali was missing a funeral when flash floods on South Africa’s east coast swept away her iron-roofed hillside shack in Lindelani township, taking two of her girls with her.
She had been searching with growing foreboding since Monday’s disaster. Then his eldest son, Zamani, 23, received a call on Thursday from other townspeople who had discovered a body by the river. It was Baphiwe, his 17-year-old son.
Mtshali’s daughter was one of around 400 people, possibly more, killed by extremely powerful rains that hit the coast, leaving an estimated 13,600 people homeless and many families grieving for lost relatives.
There is no sign of Mtshali’s 11-year-old daughter, Ntwenhle. She lost all hope of finding her alive in her riverside township on the outskirts of Durban, the port city at the epicenter of the floods that have upended the lives of 40,000 people.
“I feel numb, empty and still empty,” she told Reuters as the wreckage of her home had crumbled into a pile of rubble falling into a gash in the ground.
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“I can’t do anything but keep looking for my youngest so they can both be buried together. I don’t think I can get over this,” she said, looking away with nostalgia. “The loss is too deep.”
South Africans were still searching for survivors on Friday, and the government mobilized emergency funds to help thousands of people left homeless, without electricity or water – a tragedy that experts say will become more common as the climate warms.
Others simply sought closure by finding the dead.
“The body was naked and covered in sand. But I could see it was my sister,” security guard Zamani said of his brother, a promising student who dreamed of being a scientist.
“I covered her body and took her away.”
In Gandhi’s settlement, also near Durban, where mud-dug houses lay in ruins and many had nowhere to sleep, Nokwakha Nonketha, 48, was looking for his nephew Sivela, 32, missing since Tuesday evening. She said they must have searched on their own, as no authority had arrived to help them.
“We haven’t stopped digging. We’re going to dig until we find it,” she said. “We can’t officially grieve until we find his body.”
(Reporting by Rogan Ward; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)
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