Apr 14, 2022 - World

Deadly storm in South Africa leaves more than 300 people dead

This aerial view shows the destruction at Umdloti beach north of Durban, on April 14

This aerial view shows the destruction at Umdloti beach north of Durban, on April 14. Photo: Marco Longari/AFP via Getty Images

More than 300 people have died in South Africa's KwaZulu-Natal province after several days of torrential rains devastated the region, AP reports.

Why it matters: Widespread flooding and mudslides have destroyed infrastructure such as bridges, roads and homes, while many people remain missing.

  • As the death toll increases, this could go down in history as the country's deadliest storm.

The big picture: "The heavy rainfall that has descended on our land over the past few days, has wreaked untold havoc and unleashed massive damage to lives and infrastructure," the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government wrote in a statement on Facebook Tuesday.

  • Some parts of the province received a month's worth of rain in one day and a state of disaster has been declared, per the BBC.
  • By Wednesday evening, 306 people had been reported dead, the government said in a statement, per the Guardian.
  • Operations at the port of Durban — one of the busiest in Africa — have been suspended after the storm caused mud and debris to clog the roads, the BBC reported.
  • The rains began late last week and continued nearly continuously through the weekend, before finally stopping Tuesday, the New York Times reported.

What they're saying: South African President Cyril Ramaphosa visited affected areas of KwaZulu-Natal, describing the floods as a "calamity," per the Guardian.

  • "This is a catastrophe of enormous proportions,” he said, later adding, "this disaster is part of climate change."

What's next: More rainfall is expected to hit South Africa's east coast this weekend into early next week, per the Washington Post.

Our thought bubble, from Axios' Andrew Freedman: Studies have established that human-driven climate change is increasing the frequency and severity of heavy precipitation events worldwide.

  • A recent pair of studies published this week, for example, found that multiple cyclones that made landfall in Madagascar and affected other African nations delivered more rainfall than they otherwise would have, due to increasing sea and air temperatures.
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