South Africa revises flood toll down to 435
The death toll from South Africa’s worst floods in living memory was Thursday officially revised down to 435 after autopsies showed the figures included some who had been murdered or died from natural causes.
A total toll of 448 deaths had been announced, with dozens still missing after torrential rains last week triggered record floods and mudslides in eastern coastal parts of the country.
But police minister Bheki Cele said four bodies were found to have gunshot wounds while nine had died from natural causes.
“The final fatality figure stands at 435 as of this morning,” he said.
Government officials say dozens are still unaccounted but relief charity Gift of the Givers on Tuesday listed 237 people still missing, using figures compiled from a Whatsapp hotline it created.
The police are leading the recovery operations conducted by more than 50 specialised divers and search dogs.
After several hours of digging through four-metre high debris, police divers and local community members in Mariannhill gave up Thursday, despite the stench of decomposing human flesh over the area.
The military, which is providing airpower, is incrementally deploying troops with a target of having 10,000 boots on the ground.
Most of the soldiers will help with rebuilding roads and restoring water supplies.
Several areas are still inaccessible — hampering the delivery of relief aid — after bridges and roads cracked under the weight of the raging floodwaters.