Nine family members perished inside flood, buried

Nine members of a family have been buried after they died in a flood that devastated South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province. The last month’s flood, described as the worst the country has seen in 60 years, killed about 435 people.

A mother, Slindile Mdalose, 43, and nine children aged between two and 10 years were killed in the floods. Five of the children were Mdalose’s while four others were her aunt’s.

They were sleeping when the violent water washed through, flattening their home.

Four of the bodies are yet to be recovered but a family member believes they could be dead and decomposing somewhere.

“To tell you the truth we are mad, we are numb. We can’t use our heads. This is too much to even comprehend,” the children’s uncle, Thokozani Mdlalose tells the BBC.

“When you have to split your grief, you think of this one, you think of that [one]. It’s too much. It’s hard losing one person. It’s worse losing two. Ten is something else,” he says.

“Knowing that we haven’t found them, that they might be decomposing somewhere out there – words can’t describe what is inside me right now. I can’t even gather my thoughts,” Mr Mdlalose says.

He adds that the nine children were playful and full of laughter, and brought joy to the whole family.

Their aunt, Nonkululeko Mdlalose, says when she last spoke to her sister on the phone just hours before they died, she could tell that her sister was afraid.

It was raining heavily, unlike anything either of them had ever seen before. Still, they did not expect that it would lead to disaster, Nonkululeko Mdlalose says.

“I’ve never felt this kind of pain. I thought I was a strong person but I realise that I’m not, that we will need help, I realise we will need counselling. This is too much for anyone to bear,” she adds.

Less than 200 have been buried so far, and at least 59 bodies remain unclaimed in mortuaries.

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