Severe flash flooding struck the town of Ladysmith in South Africa's KwaZulu-Natal province on Christmas, resulting in at least 21 confirmed deaths, according to reports from local officials on Saturday, December 30.
Police spokesperson Colonel Robert Netshiunda stated on Friday that search crews had recovered 21 bodies thus far. The actual death toll may climb higher as numerous people remain missing after flood waters ravaged the community of around 1,400 homes.
Rescue teams continue scouring overflowing rivers to locate and retrieve additional bodies through the weekend. The extensive search effort is projected to persist for days until all missing persons are accounted for.
Among the deceased are seven members of the Msimango family who perished when surging waters dragged their automobile into a flooding river. Those confirmed dead by recovery teams earlier this week were Vincent Msimango, his wife, two of their children, plus Vincent's brother, niece and nephew.
The Christmas Day floods followed two other major flooding disasters that impacted KwaZulu-Natal province in 2023.
In June, heavy rains unleashed flash flooding that killed at least seven individuals near Durban. Seven other victims went missing during that event and have not been found.
Before that, catastrophic flooding across the province in April 2022 resulted in over 400 fatalities, primarily concentrated around Durban.