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S.African leader consoles families after deadly floods

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday met with devastated families in Durban, after record rains sparked floods and mudslides that killed at least 59 people.

In the township of Clermont, where homes are precariously perched on hillsides, he met a family who suffered the deaths of four children after a wall weakened by rains collapsed on them on Monday night.

“I have to come and see for myself the damage,” Ramaphosa said as he consoled the family.

“We see such tragedies hitting other countries like Mozambique, Zimbabwe, but now we are the affected ones,” the president said.

He was due to visit several other parts of the region pummelled by heavy rains in recent days.

Storms struck the southeastern province of KwaZulu-Natal as Durban, its main city, was still struggling to recover from deadly riots last July which claimed more than 350 lives.

Days of driving rain flooded several areas, tore houses apart and ravaged infrastructure across the city, claiming dozens of lives.

Officials have reported 59 flood deaths, but say many are missing as rescue and recovery operations are underway.

More rains fell overnight in parts of the province, according to the weather services.

A lull in the rain Wednesday saw residents begin clearing debris from roads and fill up holes left by raging waters to allow cars pass, an AFP correspondent said.

Parts of the province received more than 300 millimetres (13 inches) of rain on Monday, the heaviest one-day downpour in over 60 years, the South African Weather Service said.

“Some areas in KwaZulu-Natal have received more than double the maximum rainfall recorded during previous record rainfalls,” the agency’s spokeswoman, Hannelee Doubell, told AFP.