Catastrophic floods have impacted the KwaZulu-Natal province ©Getty Images

Floods have led to a provincial disaster being declared in KwaZulu-Natal, whose capital city Durban had formerly been the host of this year’s Commonwealth Games.

The National and Provincial Government declared the region a disaster area on Wednesday (April 13), with floods having begun at the start of this week.

The declaration will reportedly help ensure necessary funds are provided to assisted communities impacted by the disaster.

Sihle Zikalala, Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, said the floods were an "unprecedented disaster in the history of our province".

"The level of devastation of human life, infrastructure, and service delivery network in the province is unprecedented," Zikala said, according to the Reuters news agency.

"A total number of 40,723 people have been affected.

"Sadly, 341 fatalities have been recorded."

The province has said undoubtedly billions of rand worth of damage has been caused by the floods.

The damage has impacted homes, places of work, roads, bridges, electricity and water supply, and other critical government infrastructure, the province said.

All districts in KwaZulu-Natal have been affected.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa visited the province on Wednesday and toured affected communities.

"This is a tragic toll of the force of nature and this situation calls for an effective response by government in partnership with communities," Ramaphosa said.

"This situation calls on us to come together as a nation and offer assistance to those who desperately need our care and support."

Unexpectedly heavy rainfall has been blamed for floods by Durban’s Mayor, who has rejected claims poor drainage was a cause.

The city, the largest in the KwaZulu-Natal province, has condemned reports of looting from containers which were washed away from the port in Durban.

Durban would have been preparing to host the Commonwealth Games this year, had the South African city not been stripped of the right to stage the event in 2017.

Durban would have become the first African host of the Games, which it had been awarded two years’ prior.

The city had been the sole bidder for the multi-sport event, which it earmarked to begin on July 18 this year to coincide with the birthday of the late South African President Nelson Mandela, who died in 2013.

A lack of financial guarantees led to Durban being stripped of the Games, with the Commonwealth Games Federation forced to re-open a bid process.

Birmingham was eventually awarded the Games, with the English city due to host the event from July 28 to August 8 this year.