Oct 18, 2017 Last Updated 10:50 AM, Oct 18, 2017

At least 11 people have died in KwaZulu-Natal with officials warning the death toll could climb as rescue operations resume on Thursday.

The KwaZulu-Natal provincial government is counting the cost of the storm as mop-up operations continue.

“We are taking stock of Tuesday’s mega-storm and streamlining our joint efforts as provincial and local government to begin with clean-up operations. We wish to assure the communities that our government is on top of its game in our endeavour to minimise the impact of this storm on our residents and businesses,” acting KZN MEC of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Weziwe Thusi said.

“A total of 42 schools in KZN were gravely affected by the storm and nine of these are high schools where there are upcoming matric examinations. Plans are however underway to ensure that pupils from all affected schools will be able to sit their exams as per the set schedule and the Department of Education will be communicating directly with the learners and parents.”

The provincial government said it was working with the eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality and other affected councils to alleviate the impact of the mega-storm on Tuesday, to bring back normalcy to those affected.

“Many people’s lives have been interrupted by displacement, power outages and severe damage to both public and private infrastructure. In addition, KZN’s schools and hospitals have experienced serious interruptions to their operations,” the department said.

“The torrential rain has also caused enormous damage to healthcare institutions largely in the eThekwini metro, including Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital, RK Khan Hospital, Wentworth Hospital, St Aidans Hospital, King Edward Hospital, Clairwood Hospital, and Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital. All affected patients have been moved to safe premises.”

The provincial government was appealing to all private sector insurance companies to expedite the processing of claims to assist clients.

Government would also assess the extent of damages to make a determination on formal declaration of disaster areas if it is deemed necessary in terms of the applicable legislation, Cogta said.

“The extent of damage to public and private infrastructure in KZN includes flooded and blocked roads, 19 collapsed buildings and perimeter walls, blocked storm water drains and sewer lines, flooded buildings and households and power outages as a result of electric cable damage. We are currently assisting all displaced communities and working on all necessary repairs,” said Thusi.

Tropical Storm Nate has killed at least 22 people in Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras before it moves north towards the US.

A state of emergency has been declared in the Central American nations, where more than 20 people are missing.

It has caused heavy rains, landslides and floods which are blocking roads, destroying bridges and damaging houses.

In Costa Rica, nearly 400,000 people are without running water and thousands are sleeping in shelters.

At least eight people have died in the storm there, while another 11 were killed when it moved north and reached Nicaragua, where as much as 15ins (38cm) of rain had been predicted to fall by the US's National Hurricane Center.

Three people have been killed in Honduras, including two youths who drowned in a river, and several are reported missing.

One man was also reportedly killed in a mudslide in El Salvador, according to emergency services.

In Costa Rica, all train journeys were suspended and dozens of flights cancelled on Thursday.

More than a dozen national parks popular with tourists have been closed as a precaution.

The storm also caused extensive damage to infrastructure in Nicaragua.

Nate was expected to move off the eastern coast of Honduras at 23:00 ET (03:00 GMT) on Thursday, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Forecasters say the storm will gain strength and become a category 1 hurricane before it makes landfall on the southern coast of the United States on Sunday.

Residents from Florida to Texas have been told to prepare for the storm, which, if it does strike, will be the third major storm to hit the southern coast his year.

Both Texas and Florida are still recovering from the damage inflicted by Hurricane Harvey, which hit the former in August and caused “unprecedented damage”, and Hurricane Irma, which made landfall in Florida in September.

Oil companies operating in the Gulf of Mexico says they are evacuating staff from platforms which lie along the predicted path of the storm.

Rainstorms in western Uganda caused flooding that swamped houses, killing at least 13 people including two babies, police said on Wednesday.

Rubanda district police commander Ramathan Tai said officers in the rural town of Nfasha recovered seven bodies during a heavy rainstorm on Tuesday night and found six more the following day.

"There are reports of some people missing, but we are yet to establish the number as some homes were washed away during the rainstorm," Tai said.

"The bodies so far recovered include two babies, three women and eight men whom we suspect were in houses when the storm hit," he said.

Rubanda and neighbouring districts in western Uganda have been hit with heavy rainstorms over the last week.

Local media reported the death of two infants after floodwaters inundated a hospital in nearby Rukungiri district last week.

Rescuers are racing against the clock to reach survivors trapped under the rubble of a school in Mexico City which collapsed during Tuesday's earthquake.

One of them, a 13-year-old girl, is believed to be sheltering under a table, officials told the BBC.

At least 21 children and five adults died when the primary school collapsed and many others are missing.

The school was one of dozens of buildings toppled by the quake. So far 230 people are known to have died.

With anxious parents gathered outside awaiting news of missing children, civil protection volunteer Enrique Gardia announced that a thermal scanner had detected survivors trapped between slabs of concrete.

"They are alive! Alive!" he shouted.

"Someone hit a wall several times in one place, and in another there was a response to light signals with a lamp," he added.

One mother, standing nearby waiting for news of her seven-year-old daughter, told reporters: "No-one can possibly imagine the pain I'm in right now."

With anxious parents gathered outside awaiting news of missing children, civil protection volunteer Enrique Gardia announced that a thermal scanner had detected survivors trapped between slabs of concrete.

"They are alive! Alive!" he shouted.

"Someone hit a wall several times in one place, and in another there was a response to light signals with a lamp," he added.

One mother, standing nearby waiting for news of her seven-year-old daughter, told reporters: "No-one can possibly imagine the pain I'm in right now."

In the year 2015 flooding devastated parts of Malawi leaving hundreds and thousands in need of aid.

Now two years down the line the unhealed wounds continue to haunt the government as they are spending millions of dollars to assist those that were affected.

Presently the Malawi government is spending $12.5 million or 1 percent of the GDP and $9 million or 0.7 percent of the GDP annually to address droughts and floods impacts respectively.

This is roughly over 65 billion when converted to the local currency, the Malawi Kwacha.

Director of Environmental Affairs in the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, Tawonga Mbale Luka narrated that it is sad to note that Malawi, a country that contributes very little to greenhouse gases worldwide is facing this tragedy.

“As a country our priority is adaptation. We have done very little in terms of contributing to emissions of greenhouse gases that cause global warming and consequently climate change,” indicated Mbale.

She further mentioned that adapting to the effects of climate change; Malawi is trying to build resilience by implementing a number of projects including the Climate Proofing Local Development Gains with support from Global Environmental Facility and UNDP.

 The project aims at supporting communities in Mangochi and Machinga to adapt to impacts of climate change.

With the need for more finances, the government is being implored to seek more innovative ways of climate change financing where more people are in dire need of assistance.

Department of Environmental Affairs officials had in the same effect indicated that despite local resources available, they are also tapping financial support from the Green Climate Fund (GCF), which is under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to implement a project to do with early warning signs on climate change.

However, a climate negotiator in Ethiopia’s ministry of environment, forestry and climate change, Binyam Yakob, believes building proper planning before the floods and droughts strike is the best method for resilience.

The government as well has been pointed out as the most immediate provider of funds through the national budget.

Ethiopia is one of the countries in Africa that also faced the severe impacts of El Nino where a drought affected over 20 percent of the population calling for financial assistance amounting to $1.2 Billion.

According to Yakob, the country is presently working on mobilising locals to plant more trees and switch to other convenient ways of using their resources in avoiding further damage to the environment. 

National Director for the Civil Society Network on Climate Change (CISONECC) Julius Ng’oma however laments that Malawi is not on the right track in addressing climate change impacts.

Ng’oma indicates that the government has for the past years been focusing a lot on providing relief after the floods and droughts.

“I think what we need are better mechanisms that can help people be prepared for floods and droughts before they come,” Ng’oma indicated.

It is in the civil society’s view as well that Malawi takes advantage of international climate change funding agencies available to contain the situation.

Malawi, a country with an agro based economy located in the southern part of Africa, was affected by the El Nino weather phenomenon that led to flooding and drought in 2015.

This was one of the worst natural disasters in Malawi’s history as 100 deaths were recorded and over 336,000 people were displaced as their livestock, infrastructure and farmlands were washed away by water in over half of the country.

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