Editorial Note: While initial reports stated that the mine where the sludge dam burst had been owned by mining company De Beers, it has refuted these claims as false, stating that it has not owned this mine for more than 10 years.
While initially three people were said to have been killed by the Jagersfontein flood, the presidency has confirmed that the death toll has been revised to one person. Four people have been reported missing, 23 patients are being treated for hypothermia and four people are treated for broken legs.
The thoughts and prayers of the entire nation go out to the residents of the mining town in Jagersfontein, Free State. In the early hours of Sunday Morning, 11 September, the collapse of a dam wall belonging to a nearby abandoned diamond mine led to a mudslide and catastrophic flooding of several areas in the town.
Mineral Resources and Energy Minister, Gwede Mantashe has since activated the National Disaster Management Centre to support the affected communities and residents who were evacuated. The minister says he and other government ministers will be visiting the area on Tuesday to inspect the mine dam slide. President Cyril Ramaphosa is said to be visiting on Monday.
According to the latest reports, the immediate threat of the flow of water has ceased. The intensity of the released water flow destroyed several houses, swept away vehicles and knocked out the town’s electricity substation.
#ICYMI Minister @DlaminiZuma activates National Disaster Management Centre #NDMC to support Jagersfontein communities affected by the mining dam that burst its banks https://t.co/iLkjsL1ry6
Video: TSF Risk Solutions https://t.co/nnNDbsivZH pic.twitter.com/g2JWBX0nCY
— NationalCoGTA ?? (@NationalCoGTA) September 12, 2022
?In the News: Gift of the Givers on SABC 404 at 1pm today discussing dam wall collapse in #Jagersfontein ?.#GiftoftheGivers #MakeADifference #ForTheGreaterGood #DisasterResponse #SA #SouthAfrica pic.twitter.com/xQjPFj7LiV
— Gift of the Givers (@GiftoftheGivers) September 11, 2022
Search & rescue operations to locate 4 missing persons are continuing at this hour in the mining town of Jagersfontein in the Free State.
This comes after a mine dam burst there causing flooding.
— The Legal SA (@TheLegalSA) September 11, 2022
Multi-disciplinary teams consisting of the South African Police Service, emergency medical services, health, disaster management, social development, search and rescue personnel and engineers from the mine responded immediately and are on the scene where search, rescue, immediate relief and stabilization operations are underway.
Residents have been advised to steer clear of the flood water.
“The water infrastructure of the time might have also been affected. Concerningly, the town is currently without electricity, which might affect the wastewater treatment plants. Due to little information currently available, affected communities need to take necessary precautions to ensure that their health is not affected,” said environmentalist Professor Anja du Plessis.
The health implications of the disaster are yet to be assessed, but there are concerns as the dam was used to store byproducts of mining operations in the town.
The cause of the break has not been confirmed. The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy said it is conducting investigations.
A local church has opened its doors for shelter and accommodation. What the affected residents immediately required included bottled water, bulk food for cooking, blankets, mattresses and clothing.
Other requirements include hygiene items, sanitary pads, nappies and fodder for sheep which were left in the muddy sludge.
“Gift of the Givers team are currently packing supplies at Bethlehem, Graaf-Reinet, Gqeberha and Cape Town, with the first delivery expected later today [Sunday] in Jagersfontein,” said Imtiaz Sooliman.
Two of the Gift of the Givers members are the heads of the Free State Disaster Management search and rescue team.
“We will be getting updates directly from them once the network is functional. Arrangements will be made to provide fodder for the sheep,” Sooliman said.