No fewer than nine persons have died and eight persons have been declared missing after a flash flood swept away members of a church congregation performing rituals along the Jukskei River in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The South African authorities announced the church tragedy on Sunday.
Rescue workers who initially found two dead bodies on Saturday, later discovered seven additional corpses Sunday morning.
However, they disclosed that eight persons were still missing as an ongoing search for them was already underway.
In South Africa, 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.
“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,” Mr Mulaudzi explained at a press briefing.
He added, “Our message for them is to exercise caution as and when they conduct these rituals.”