- Number of people killed has gone up to 40 and while dozens were injured in South Africa as wild fires which started over the weekend ravaged through homes and tens of thousands of hectares of bush, forest and farmland across three provinces.
Worst-affected region is KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), where over 20 people have been reported dead. One area had very little left after 179 houses burnt down, an official said. Another six people are reported to have died elsewhere in fires, which also left dozens homeless in Cape Town.
KZN Premier S'bu Ndebele said provincial government will ensure that lives of fire victims are normalised as soon as possible.
Housing, Local Government and Traditional Affairs MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu, who is the political head of disaster management in the province has further been tasked to work with all municipalities to assist affected families, as part of speeding up normalisation processes.
A storm, which is expected to hit again this weekend, fanned wild fires also spreading to neighbouring, Swaziland and Mozambique.
In Mozambique, at least four people were killed, 20 injured and one was unaccounted for after a wildfire gutted dozens of houses in a village in central Manica province, state television said.
The dead were an elderly woman and her three grandsons, who were burned in their hut. Hundreds of other villagers were left homeless after their shacks were engulfed by flames.
In South Africa, main opposition party in the province, Inkatha Freedom Party, has criticised KwaZulu-Natal housing, local government and traditional affairs minister Mike Mabuyakhulu's department, saying very little has been done to help victims.
IFP agriculture spokesperson Henry Combrinck said: "Clearly very little if anything has been done in terms of prevention to help the areas and farmers that are likely to be affected by wildfires."
Wildfires are common in Southern Africa at the end of the dry winter season. At the weekend, the fires were fanned by winds reaching gale force in coastal and mountainous areas. Wind speeds were measured in some areas at 80-120km/hour.
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