Update: Storm Wreaks Havoc in Durban, Eight Feared Dead

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(Image Courtesy: all4women.co.za)

Durban harbour was closed till Wednesday afternoon with authorities having spent over 24 hours refloating five vessels that ran aground, while emergency services were on high alert after a massive storm hit the city killing at least eight people.

Two people died in the heavy downpour when a wall collapsed at the Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital in Umlazi, one person died in the Durban CBD, another was killed when a container fell onto a car and a child drowned while trying to cross a stream in a town about 40km inland from Port Shepstone.

It took five tugboats to refloat the 330m long MSC Innes, which was blocking the harbour after being blown across its mouth. Earlier today, Sea News reported that three vessels ran ashore suspending vessel movement at the Port of Durban.

The South Africa Maritime Safety Authority (Samsa) said that it spent Tuesday night and Wednesday morning refloating ships in distress. The MSC Innes, MS New York, Bow Triumph, the SA Shipyard floating dock and the new harbour tug were pushed onto sandbanks.

The MSC Susanna and Maritime Newanda broke their moorings and had to be held by harbour tugs to prevent them from also running aground, according to Samsa.

Bow Triumph, a 183m long product tanker berthed in Island View, broke its moorings and ran aground on the sand bank near the Island View Terminal. It was refloated at 4:30 pm (local time). The work of clearing the anchors which were stuck has been completed.

“Emergency Medical Services are still on high alert because rivers are swollen and informal structures were badly damaged”, EMS spokesperson Robert McKenzie said of the storm on Tuesday.

The safety authority’s principal officer in Durban, Captain Hopewell Mkhize and Durban harbour master, Captain Alex Miya, formed a joint operations committee with the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) to help vessels that had run aground. “We prioritised the bigger ships because of the pollution risk,” they said.

Sea News, October 11