Flash flood kills nine at church gathering in South Africa

The dead were all part of a congregation conducting religious rituals along the Jukskei river in Johannesburg, officials said.

Rescuers carry the body of a flood victim retrieved from the Jukskei river in Johannesburg
Rescuers carry the body of a flood victim retrieved from the Jukskei river in Johannesburg

At least nine people have died and eight others are missing after they were swept away by a flash flood along a river in Johannesburg, rescue officials in South Africa have said.

Two bodies were recovered on Saturday and a further seven bodies were found when the rescue mission resumed on Sunday morning.

The dead and missing were all part of a congregation conducting religious rituals along the Jukskei river on Saturday, according to officials.

Rescue workers search the Jukskei river
Rescue workers search the Jukskei river (AP)

Rescue teams are conducting interviews with some of the people who survived or were rescued to establish exactly how many people have been accounted for.

Johannesburg Emergency Services spokesman Robert Mulaudzi said on Sunday that officials continually warned residents about the dangers of conducting rituals along the river.

“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 practice these kinds of rituals, will be tempted to go to these river streams,” he told a news briefing.

“Our message for them is to exercise caution as and when they conduct these rituals.”

Congregations often gather to conduct church rituals including cleansing and baptism along the Jukskei river, which runs along many townships including Alexandra in the east of Johannesburg.

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