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Climate Change Caused Floods That Killed 435 in South Africa

  • Rainfall exceeded 350 millimeters over two days in some areas
  • Similar episodes of rainfall can be expected every 20 years
Debris at an informal settlement after floods in Durban. 

Debris at an informal settlement after floods in Durban. 

Photographer: Rajesh Jantilal/AFP/Getty Images

South Africa’s deadliest floods in almost three decades was exacerbated by climate change and similarly heavy rainfall can be expected to occur more regularly, according to scientists collaborating under the World Weather Attribution initiative.

Rainfall in the southeastern KwaZulu-Natal province exceeded 350 millimeters (14 inches) over two days in some areas -- the heaviest in at least six decades -- triggering floods and landslides that killed 435 people, destroyed thousands of dwellings, cut power and water supplies, and disrupted trade at the Port of Durban, sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest container hub.