Large parts of the Kruger National Park have been completely closed off until further notice, and more than two dozen people have had to be airlifted to safety following heavy rains and flooding in the area.
The severe downpour started on Tuesday afternoon and did not taper off until yesterday evening, by which time considerable damage had been done. Crocodile bridge, which derives its name from the river it crosses, has been closed because it is overflowing and all gravel roads on the park have also been closed.
Six tourists who were on a game drive on Tuesday night had to be airlifted to safety, raising the number of rescued victims close to 30. Only minor injuries were suffered by some of the guests and they have been tended to by medical staff.
Heavy rain is classified at more than 50mm in 24 hours, far less than the 267mm that fell between 08h00 on Tuesday and 08h00 on Wednesday at the park. Another 100mm of rain was measured in just six hours on Wednesday, between 08h00 and 14h00.
Warnings have been issued by both Park officials and the Mpumalanga safety department. The text below is from the latter’s spokesman, Joseph Mabuza.
We received reports that some of the bridges have been affected by rains, so we request all road users to be cautious when using the roads. If a driver sees water on a bridge or near a bridge that is partially submerged, we request they assess the situation, whether it is safe to cross, and if there is any doubt, they must not use the bridge and find an alternative route.
According to SA Weather Service senior forecaster, William Msimanga the strong downpours came as a result of the sub-tropical depression Banbo, this season’s fourth so far.
The Kruger National Park has issued the following in light of the flooding:
Following heavy rains encountered in and around the Kruger area, this is an urgent warning. The following areas have been affected:
The entrance gates listed below have been closed until further notice:
-Paul Kruger gate
-Crocodile Bridge gate
-Giriyondo Border gate
-Malelane to Skukuza
-Phalaborwa gate to Mopani
-Letaba to Mopani
-Olifants to Satara
-Lower Sabie to Skukuza
-Crocodile Bridge to Lower Sabie
All gravel roads are closed.
Camps not accessible:
-Imbali Concession Lodge
-Tshokwane picnic site
Lower Sabie and Skukuza are cut off and precautionary evacuations are being carried out on low lying areas, which include Staff accommodation, river view chalets and some camping grounds. The situation is under control and the SANDF is also assisting where necessary. Stranded people are being assisted. Some guests are being evacuated to nearby accommodation facilities outside the Park.
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