Johannesburg, South Africa – An estimated nine people died and eight others were still missing in South Africa after a flash flood swept away members of a church congregation along the Jukskei River in Johannesburg on Sunday.
According to rescue officials, the dead and missing were all part of the congregation, which was conducting religious rituals along the river on Saturday.
It was gathered that water rituals are prevalent, particularly near the Jukskei River, where a large number of religious people frequently assemble to perform baptism and other purification rituals.
Robert Mulaudzi, the spokesperson for the Johannesburg Emergency Services, disclosed residents had been warned multiple times to exercise caution while performing their religious rituals due to the increased rainstorms in the city.
Mr Mulaudzi explained at a press briefing; “We have been receiving a lot of rain on the city of Johannesburg in the last three months, and most of the river streams are now full. Our residents, especially congregants who normally practise these kinds of rituals, will be tempted to go to these river streams,”
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“Our message for them is to exercise caution as and when they conduct these rituals.” he added.
However, there was speculations that the total number of missing persons could be more than the reported. To that effect, the rescue teams were interviewing people from the congregation to establish how many others were unaccounted for.