Worst natural disasters in South Africa

Worst natural disasters in South Africa

There are a number of natural disasters that occur, and they are classified in the following types of natural disasters (Meteorological. Geological, hydrological and space disasters). As our primary focus is on natural disasters in South Africa, we shall look at the most recent and also the most notable natural disasters that have taken place over the years.

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List of natural disasters in south Africa
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There isn't a single guaranteed method for anticipating a natural disaster, even so, you can prepare but still not be able to predict the damage that anyone particular natural disaster may have on a given location. This is a list of some of the top 10 natural disasters;

  • Flooding
  • Heat waves
  • Sinkholes
  • Storms
  • Thunderstorms
  • Drought
  • Wildfires
  • Tornadoes
  • Volcanic eruptions
  • Hurricanes

Some of the causes of natural disasters in South Africa are; extreme weather changes, human activities like mining and global warming. With the most commonly occurring natural catastrophe being flooding, it's only right if we start from there as we highlight the use of South Africa natural disaster pictures. Here is a list of Natural Disasters South Africa;

  • Floods
  • Earthquakes
  • Sinkholes
  • Drought
  • Wildfires

Floods

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picture of the 1987 Natal Floods

They can be defined as a rising and overflow of a body of water especially onto usually dry land. We shall start with the most recent floods to hit South Africa. Parts of Gauteng Province in South Africa were hit by a severe storm from 22 March 2018.

Briefly.co.za learned that areas around Johannesburg and Pretoria were particularly badly hit. Strong winds have downed trees, and heavy rain had flooded several roads, causing major traffic problems. A massive sinkhole appeared on the M24 Route between Gauteng and Valhalla. The Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA) has asked road users to be careful following heavy rains, particularly when crossing bridges. The heavy rain also caused some rivers to overflow, including the Hennops River, which has flooded extensive areas of Centurion, south-west of Pretoria. Local media report that some homes in northern Johannesburg were evacuated. Not a single fatality was reported during the whole flooding incident.

Based on statistics, the year 1987 has the record for having one of the worst natural disasters in South Africa characterized by the loss of many innocent lives numbering in their hundreds; thousands more were affected as well. Also labeled as the biggest natural disaster in South Africa due to the severity and land mass that was changed. Shanty-town dwellers were hit harder their structures could not withstand the water.

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Earthquakes

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Image of the Tulbagh earthquake of 1969

The year 1969 had one of the earliest recorded national disasters to hit South Africa; this was one of the first major national disasters at about 10:04 pm on 29 September 1969, the Boland farming towns of Tulbagh, Wolseley, and Ceres experienced a severely devastating earthquake. The epicenter of the quake was situated in Saron, a region near Tulbagh.

The earthquake measured a sizable 6.3 on the Richter’s scale, with reports of tremors experienced in the broader Cape region. Earthquakes in the area were relatively unheard of before then. Because of a general lack of knowledge about earthquakes at the time, precautionary measures and disaster management were not in place. As a result, the Tulbagh earthquake resulted in nine human casualties and several injuries. Also, many homes in the town were rendered uninhabitable. The quake wreaked destruction on the older, more historically significant, buildings in the area.

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One of the most recent natural disasters was in Orkney and measured 5.5, characterized by destruction of property of immense value over a radius of approximately twelve kilometers. The real magnitude is still a subject of debate as some sources have had different scales. But the damage is still irrevocable.

Wildfires

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As recent as 2017 one of the biggest open wildfires hit a particular area of South Africa, adopting the monicker Knysna fires. Lasting for over 24 hours and spreading across a considerable distance, the Knysna fires engulfed a number of homes and businesses over a large area. It was estimated that the number of homes that were destroyed more than forty displacing many families in such a short period, flora and fauna were also damaged as the fire scorched the earth, sadly too there were reports of fatalities as some people were unable to evacuate their residences in good time. The magnitude of any natural disaster of often greater where loss of lives or even a single life has resulted.

Wildfires are very hard to contain, they may occur due to a myriad of reasons, but they mostly flourish in areas that are arid or semi-arid and with increasing heat waves and the availability of tinder in the form of dry leaves or dry tree bark. The South Africa news report that trees such as Eucalyptus make it worse as they are some of the most flammable trees indigenous to Africa.

Storms

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In the year 2017, was a very tragic year for Cape Town residents as a storm led to the loss of lives and damage of property worth millions. This led to a number of individuals losing their homes and structures such as schools being destroyed in the wake of the storm. Flying debris was also of grave concern, injuries as a result of this were also reported, no fatalities as a result which is a positive outcome in the grand scheme of things.

Shantytowns were the worst affected areas by the storm as reported by BBC; they are mainly informal settlements made out of iron sheets or some other material like weak wood. Such structures are not built to withstand some types of harsh weather, even the residents know of this, but the inability to afford decent housing makes them live in such structures. In the wake of the storm most of the residents of these informal settlements had their roofs blown off, and in the worst case scenario, some had their whole house uprooted again leading to the displacement of families and millions worth of property damage.

Sinkholes

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Picture of a car that plummeted into a sinkhole in Gauteng Province

Sinkholes are quite common in parts of the Gauteng province; this can be attributed to the abundance of dolomite rock according to Geoscience. This makes for frequent sinkholes. Mostly circular in motion with varying depths are widths, they mostly happen without a single warning this is what makes them quite dangerous. There have been cases of people that have lost their lives after falling into sinkholes, mostly when driving around a familiar environment but not knowing about the occurrence of a sinkhole. This is the reason why sinkholes make it to the list of natural disasters in South Africa.

As mentioned above, sinkholes rarely have a warning but then again, one of the ways that people in Gauteng have been able to see signs of impending sinkholes is by the appearance of cracks along the walls of their houses, these are the most prominent ways to tell. The cracks appear due to the formation of a sinkhole that splits the wall of the house, once seen it is highly recommended that the occupants of the house in question move as soon as possible. Some families have been known to ignore the sings thus ending up losing property rather than moving early and salvaging the property that they can.

Drought

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This can be defined as a period where there is little to no rain. A common occurrence in most African countries with one of the worst being the experienced in East Africa. The most recent drought to hit South Africa has been in since the beginning of the year 2018 Johannesburg, to a point where the government has declared it a national disaster with a number of cutbacks expected to take place in an effort to cut back the consumption of water until the rains come back.

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Some of the causes of natural disasters in South Africa include; human activities such as mining that can trigger earthquakes, global warming that has adverse effects and leads to heat waves due to the accumulation of atmospheric gases in the ozone and also extreme weather patterns that can lead to storms or floods. With further studies of weather patterns and also monitoring human activities closely, the South African government shall be able to know what natural disasters happen frequently and even how to manage them and in turn save lives and property.

Natural disasters can occur at any given time, that is why they have a very high chance of destroying property and sadly also the loss of lives. As much as we value development and urbanization, some of the human activities seem to be doing us more damage than we ever thought possible. At the rate at which the earth’s carrying capacity is being severely pushed to the limit, it will come with no surprise that there shall only be more disasters in the future not only in South Africa but also around the world as seen with the natural disasters in South Africa. It is high time that people do more to protect the environment and also teach the younger generation to take more care of the environment.

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Source: Briefly.co.za

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