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Weather tracker: South Africa floods kill at least 11 people

Extreme rain and strong winds across South Africa’s Western Cape province have caused flooding, torn off roofs, destroyed crops and damaged roads this week. It is estimated that the 48-hour rainfall totals between Sunday and Monday were between 100mm to 200mm (4-8in) in this region.

According to the Cape Town Disaster Risk Management Centre, 12,000 people were affected, but a further 80,000 people were left without electricity, according to the national power utility. The mayor of Cape Town signed a major incident declaration for additional resources and relief measures as 80 roads have been closed, 200 farm workers have been stranded and rail services have been suspended in the Western and Eastern Cape provinces.

So far, there have been 11 recorded deaths, though the toll may rise as flood waters subside. Eight of the 11 deaths were caused by electrocution when waters swamped illegal connections to power lines in informal settlements in Cape Town. These connections are made in poor townships in the outskirts of the city where residents will hook their homes to existing power lines. More than 60% of the city’s new settlements are considered to be at high risk, either being situated under power lines, in wetlands, retention ponds, or in biodiversity protected areas, making them residents vulnerable to extreme weather.

After Greece was struck by Storm Daniel this month, Storm Elias brought more rain to areas that still had not recovered this week. The city of Volos in central Greece, with a population of about 140,000, recorded 298mm (11.7in) of rainfall in 14 hours, more than eight times the monthly average for the city. Residents were instructed to stay indoors and roads were cleared, with 80% of the city left without power. Other places that recorded high levels of rainfall were Limeni, which recorded 216mm (8.in) in seven hours, and Istiaia, which recorded 140mm (5.5in) in 3.5 hours. The fire service in Volos said there had been no reports of deaths.

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