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South Africans face agonising wait for news of missing loved ones

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Residents of the KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa are facing an agonising wait for news of their missing loved ones as the death toll in the devastating floods and mudslide last week rises to 460.

Reports from government officials on Monday confirmed that at least 460 people have died in the floods amd mudslides, while dozens are still missing as rescue workers continue to search in the southeastern coastal region.

The Premier of the Durban province which covers the KwaZulu-Natal area, Sihle Zikalala, in a statement, said the dead included two emergency workers, while more than 63 people remain unaccounted for.

“The loss of lives, destruction of homes, the damage to the physical infrastructure … make this natural disaster one of the worst ever in recorded history of our province,” said Zikalala.

“In some of the worst-affected areas residents faced an agonising wait for the news of missing loved ones,” he added.

Sbongile Mjoka, a resident of Sunshine village in the eThekwini municipality whose eight-year-old nephew has been missing for days, told reporters that his family is still hopeful of seeing his nephew alive.

“We haven’t lost hope. Although we are constantly worried as the days continue,” Mjoka said.

Another resident, Lethiwe Sibiya, who also spoke to journalists said “everything is a harsh reminder of what we lost, and not being able to find our loved ones is devastating because we can’t grieve or heal. At this stage we are left feeling empty.”

In what has been described as one of the most devastating natural disasters in the country, the floods and accompanying mudslides were the strongest to have struck South Africa in more 60 years triggered by torrential rains that lashed the KwaZulu-Natal province.

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Metro

Tragedy as 22 die in South African night club

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At least 22 people have died from exposure to poisonous substances in a popular nightclub in East London, South Africa.

Bodies of the victims were said to have been found on chairs early on Sunday morning at the scene occurred at Enyobeni Tavern in the city.

Siyanda Manana, a spokesperson for the Eastern Cape provincial health department, told Reuters: “We are going to immediately be embarking on autopsies so we can know the probable cause of death. We are talking 22 bodies right now.”

Police spokesperson, Tembinkosi Kinana, said “the incident is still under investigation, we do not want to make any speculations at this stage.”

Meanwhile, South African president Cyril Ramaphosa has expressed his condolences to the families affected.

The president in a statement said he was worried about the circumstances under which young people, potentially under the age of 18 years, were allowed to gather at the tavern but said the law must take its course once investigations conclude.

Night life is a big part of South Africa’s entertainment industry with is the largest market for food and drink in sub-Saharan Africa, and a large and competitive hospitality industry.  According to a study by Statistics, South Africa, spending on alcoholic drinks such as Wine and Beer trumps that on other beverages such as Tea and Coffee.

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Gabon, Togo become newest members of Commonwealth group of nations

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Gabon and Togo have become the latest countries to be admitted into the Commonwealth Group of Nations following their acceptance at the Commonwealth Head of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kigali, Rwanda.

The two African Francophone nations were formally admitted to the group after years of trying to join the 54 nations bloc, bringing the number to 56, the first since Rwanda joined in 2009.

The admission of Gabon and Togo by the Commonwealth on Saturday, which was the highlight of the summit as it drew to a close, sees a continuing expansion of the group of nations beyond ex-British colonies as smaller states seek to benefit from the group which is projected to bring $2 trillion in trade by 2030.

While welcoming the new nations in his closing remarks at the summit, Rwandan President Paul Kagame said:

“We have admitted Gabon and Togo as new members, and we all welcome them to the Commonwealth family.”

Togo’s Foreign Minister Robert Dussey said the membership of the country has opened the door to 2.5 billion consumers in the Commonwealth realm, offered new education opportunities, and tapped a craze for English among his countrymen.

“Togo’s membership is motivated by the desire to expand its diplomatic, political, and economic network… as well as to get closer to the English-speaking world,” he told a news conference.

On his part, Gabonese President Ali Bongo said his country was “making history” by joining the group after 62 years of its independence.

“Sixty-two years after its Independence, our country is getting ready to breakthrough with a new chapter. It’s a world of opportunities for Gabon on the economic, diplomatic & cultural levels,” Bongo said in a statement on Twitter.

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