The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) is currently providing disaster relief to flood-stricken communities in Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces. Over four hundred people, including school children, were rescued through various means in both provinces, the Department of Defence says.
The SANDF has deployed three Oryx and two Agusta A109 helicopters and one Caravan (fixed wing aircraft) in Limpopo and one Oryx helicopter in Mpumalanga for the operation, dubbed Operation Chariot.
Earlier this week, heavy rains caused flooding in eastern parts of South Africa and Mozambique, causing rivers to burst their banks and low lying areas to become flooded.
Helicopters from the South African Air Force’s 17 and 19 Squadrons in Pretoria and Hoedespruit took off on Wednesday to rescue people in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the Kruger National Park. Police and civilian helicopters assisted in rescues as well.
Police in Casspirs crossed flooded rivers to reach trapped villagers, IOL reports, adding that the floods have caused authorities to shut the Kruger Park’s border posts. Road and bridges were swept away in the park and several tourists trapped by water or washed away in their cars.
South African National Parks chief executive David Mabunda said that out of 1 800 guests in the Kruger Park, 80, including 10 staff members, have been evacuated. He added that no animals have been killed or hurt and that anti-poaching operations are continuing, with SANDF members still monitoring the borders.
Dozens of people have been injured and several killed by flood waters – Mpumalanga’s MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Madala Masuku said two people died in the floods in Nkomazi yesterday. According to Eyewitness News, an estimated five lives were lost in the flooding, while thousands more were severely affected by Dando, the first tropical storm to hit southern Mozambique since 1984.
The rains are easing, with no rain forecast to fall in Limpopo or Mpumalanga over the weekend. However, the Department of Water Affairs has warned people living downstream of dams in Southern Mozambique, Mpumalanga and Swaziland of more floods as dams overflow.