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After the relentless rain, South Africa sounds the alarm on the climate crisis

After the relentless rain, South Africa sounds the alarm on the climate crisis

Many are still missing after this month’s floods. Extreme weather is becoming more frequent, and it can be devastating

Survivors of South Africa’s devastating floods have described “sheet upon sheet of relentless rain” that washed away entire houses, bridges and roads, killing about 450 people and making thousands homeless.

The storm, which delivered close to an entire year’s usual rainfall in 48 hours, took meteorologists by surprise and has been blamed by experts on climate change. The new disaster comes after three tropical cyclones and two tropical storms hit south-east Africa in just six weeks in the first months of this year.

The full extent of the devastation caused by the floods in South Africa this month is yet to become clear, with many victims still missing and authorities still learning of new damage around the eastern coastal city of Durban. Many tens of thousands of people remain without water, and there are rising concerns about an outbreak of infectious disease.

Uzair Ismail, 35, said he had been forced to flee his home in central Durban with his wife and eight-year-old when water and mud flooded in through doors, windows and plumbing in the middle of the night when the storm struck almost two weeks ago.

“We were lucky to get out alive … Slowly, slowly we had built ourselves up to a livable home with a few possessions and we had left everything. But others lost much more. We are safe at least,” Ismail told the Guardian.

Some families were almost entirely wiped out in the disaster, losing eight or 10 members.

The South African president, Cyril Ramaphosa, described a “catastrophe of enormous proportions” and attributed the disaster to the climate emergency.

“It is telling us that climate change is serious, it is here,” Ramaphosa said as he visited the flooded metropolitan area of eThekwini, which includes Durban, shortly after the floods.


Many are still missing after this month’s floods. Extreme weather is becoming more frequent, and it can be devastating
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