At least nine members of a Church congregation in Johannesburg, South Africa, died when a flash flood swept them away during a religious service along a river on Saturday, according to officials.
The remains of two victims were found on Saturday, while seven others were located during a search and recovery mission on Sunday.
Churches and religious organizations frequently use the Jukskei River, which runs in eastern Johannesburg, for baptisms and other services.
“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,” Johannesburg Emergency Services spokesman Robert Mulaudzi said during a press conference on Sunday.
“Our message for them is to exercise caution as and when they conduct these rituals.”
The City of Johannesburg EMS had launched a “Flood Awareness campaign” on Nov. 21 to “increase awareness of flood risks in the area and provide information and advice to help residents protect their homes.”
It wasn’t immediately clear if more members of the congregation were missing on Sunday evening.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.