The death toll from severe storms in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal Province has risen to 70, authorities said on Thursday.
“We are quite devastated by the growing number of fatalities,” KwaZulu-Natal acting premier Sihle Zikalala said.
As rescue work continued, final figures would be released later, Zikalala said.
Heavy storms have swept through the province since Monday night, leaving behind a trail of destruction and displacement of hundreds of people.
It was believed to be the biggest natural disaster in the province for years.
“It is a situation that is worrying, but as government, we will be working to ensure that we prepare assistance for all those who have been affected, particularly those who are now displaced,” Zikalala said.
The local government would coordinate efforts to ensure shelter, clothing and any other essentials needed by those affected, he added.
Currently disaster teams continued with their operations to bring people to safety and assist those in need.
The disaster teams have reported that with mudslides and sinkholes swallowing homes, it is now a race against time to rescue those that have not been accounted for.
Earlier, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Zweli Mkhize said after a visit to the affected areas that his ministry would continue to coordinate all role-players in order to respond rapidly to the disaster.
The extent of the damage in certain areas requires the expertise of engineers and others, who are qualified to guide the process to repair or rebuild all that has been damaged, the minister said.
He urged communities to heed the call and tips from the authorities regarding the extreme weather conditions, especially areas that are not safe, like bridges, roads, homes and other infrastructure.
KwaZulu-Natal emergency services said they were working round the clock to minimise impact of flooding on communities and providing assistance to those affected.