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South Africa flooding leaves more than 440 dead; troops sent to help with relief efforts

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At least 448 people have been killed by devastating flooding in South Africa. 

The country has declared a national state of disaster, allocating $67 million in relief to help those hit by floods in the eastern city of Durban and the surrounding KwaZulu-Natal province.

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The flooding and mudslides – caused by prolonged heavy rains – have displaced more than 40,000 people and destroyed nearly 4,000 homes, according to officials. 

More than 40 people remain missing and 600 schools have been hit with damages estimated at about $28 million. 

South Africa’s military has deployed 10,000 troops to help with search and rescue efforts, rebuild collapsed roads and bridges, and deliver food, water and clothing to those affected. 

 Water tankers have been sent to areas where access to clean water has been disrupted and teams are working to restore electricity.

South Africa had been in a national state of disaster over the COVID-19 pandemic since March 2020. It was lifted two weeks ago. 

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After widespread corruption was uncovered by the state’s Special Investigating Unit in state funds that were supposed to help the nation respond to the coronavirus pandemic, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said Monday that there could be “no room for corruption, mismanagement or fraud of any sort” in the government’s response. 

“Learning from the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are drawing together various stakeholders to be part of an oversight structure to ensure all funds disbursed to respond to this disaster are properly accounted for and that the state receives value for money,” he said.

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Ramaphosa, who visited some of the flooded areas last week, blamed climate change for the unprecedented rains, the heaviest in at least 60 years. 

Notably, many South Africans are skeptical that government funds for flood relief will not be diverted by corruption. 

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Several businesses, prominent South Africans and charities have pledged money to private organizations.

The Online News 72h contributed to this report.

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