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South African flood survivor mourns lost family

Flood survivor Mluleki Hlophe stares at the mud mound where a house once stood and is incredulous.

“I’m still in shock and I still don’t believe … my daughter and my sister, my young sisters, my nephews. I still don’t think so,” he says.

More than a dozen South African rescue workers on Friday meticulously combed a lush green valley where 10 people from Hlophe’s family have been missing for five days since violent floods swept through the city of Durban, killing 395 people.

More than a dozen South African rescue workers on Friday meticulously combed a lush green valley where 10 people from Hlophe's family have been missing for five days since violent floods swept through the city of Durban, killing 395 people More than a dozen South African rescue workers on Friday meticulously combed a lush green valley where 10 people from Hlophe’s family have been missing for five days since violent floods swept through the city of Durban, killing 395 people Photo: AFP / Phil Magakoe

The 32-year-old survivor and other men from the KwaNdengezi community outside Durban have been helping search parties dig through the mud.

Only the body of Hlophe’s mother was found in the river after the storm died down.

An officer warns him that the sandy soil will make it difficult for the dogs to track other bodies.

An official warns that the sandy soil will make it harder for dogs to smell dead bodies An official warns that the sandy soil will make it harder for dogs to smell dead bodies Photo: AFP / Phil Magakoe

Others believe the bodies were most likely swept away by the swollen river.

Divers search the river’s filthy waters while the canine unit combs the flood plains.

But after four hours of searching, they find nothing.

At least 395 people are dead and dozens more are still missing after severe flooding ravaged the city of Durban At least 395 people are dead and dozens more are still missing after severe flooding ravaged the city of Durban Photo: AFP / Phil Magakoe

Along the river, families are approaching the search teams, asking them to let the dogs try to find their missing loved ones.

Officials have described the heavy rains that hit the southeastern coastal province of KwaZulu-Natal as one of the worst weather disasters in the country's history Officials have described the heavy rains that hit the southeastern coastal province of KwaZulu-Natal as one of the worst weather disasters in the country’s history Photo: AFP / Phil Magakoe

The police “didn’t answer our calls and when they did they said there was no help for now because a lot of people were lost,” says Sinenhlanhla Menela, 30, whose sister, 26, and two-year-old nephew are missing.

The head of the search team explains to desperate residents that the disaster has stretched their resources.

With more rain forecast this weekend, more flooding or mudslides could further hamper efforts to recover more bodies.

Officials have described the heavy rains that have hit the southeastern coastal province of KwaZulu-Natal as one of the worst weather disasters in the country’s history.

Dozens of people are still missing.

Police, military and volunteer rescuers have joined forces to respond to the endless stream of calls for help.

“Even if everyone pulls together, the devastation is so great that we are very poorly distributed,” said Travis Trower, director of the volunteer-run organization Rescue South Africa.

A woman in her late twenties, Hlophe’s sister, was the sole survivor of the landslide that destroyed the family home.

She had gone to check on an uncle next door whose home was closer to the river when the larger homestead in front of her was swept away, Hlophe says. Her one-year-old son was among the victims.

“I don’t even believe God is here anymore. says Mesuli Shandu, 20, a close relative of the family, looking down at the devastated hill where generations of the same family had lived.

“It’s better that we know this is someone’s grave. Maybe we can move on, accept it because it’s very difficult to deal with,” she says, fighting back tears.

https://www.ibtimes.com/my-daughter-my-sisters-safrica-flood-survivor-mourns-lost-family-3475794?utm_source=Public&utm_medium=Feed&utm_campaign=Distribution South African flood survivor mourns lost family

Brian Ashcraft

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