At least nine people have died and eight others are missing after members of a church in South Africa were swept away by flash floods. Floods occurred yesterday along the Jukskee River in Johannesburg.
According to the authorities, the faithful were performing religious rituals along the river, which, by all indications, had a normal volume of water when the activities began.
Rescue workers reported finding the bodies of two victims yesterday and seven more when search operations resumed on Sunday morning.
The teams were interviewing people in the congregation to determine how many worshipers were still missing.
Religious groups often gather along the Jukskei River, which runs through townships such as Alexandra, east of Johannesburg, for baptisms and purification rituals.
According to the British newspaper “The Mirror”, the Johannesburg authorities say that about 33 believers participated in the rituals on the banks of the river.
Robert Mulaudzi, a spokesman for the Johannesburg emergency services, said authorities had warned residents of the dangers of performing rituals along the river.
“It has been raining heavily in the city of Johannesburg for the past three months, and most of the streams are full. Our residents, especially the faithful who usually practice this type of ritual, will be tempted to go to these streams,” Mulaudzi said during an interview. “Our message to them is to be careful when performing This ritual.”
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