Cape Town storm: Eight killed as drought ends

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Storm comingAlex De Kock watched on Signal Hill in Cape Town as the storm approached

Eight people have been killed when a storm lashed the South African city of Cape Town following months of drought.

Among the dead is a family of four killed in a fire started by lightning, while thousands have been left homeless, officials say.

The storm comes two weeks after the region declared a drought disaster.

The BBC’s Mo Allie in Cape Town reports that before the storm, there had been several interfaith meetings to pray for rain.

Africa Live: BBC news updates

Our correspondent adds that the storm was anticipated and warnings have been made by the local authorities for the last week.

Local media have dubbed it “the mother of all storms”.

Schools and universities have had to shut, roofs were blown off and shelters have been opened for those left destitute.

Residents of the city’s many shanty towns have been worst hit as their fragile homes have been unable to resist the strong winds and heavy rain.

Windsurfer Jake Kolnik sails during a storm in Cape Town, South Africa 07 June 2017. A powerful storm with gale force winds, heavy rain and seas in excess of 10 meters lashed the peninsula causing damage to property and vegetation.

Windsurfer Jake Kolnik rode the waves of the storm
A woman and a child run across the road, in makeshift raincoats in an informal settlement, in Langa, during one of the most intense storms that has hit the Western Cape Province in more than a decade, on June 07, 2016, in Cape Town
Weather foracasters warn the predicted rainfall could lead to localised flooding
Tree across road
Fallen trees have caused roads to close across Cape Town

Western Cape Disaster Management spokesman James-Brent Styan said that many people had been injured by flying debris.

Cape Town resident Neels Stander told the BBC: “One minute it’s a drought, the next it’s a storm. No wonder the place is called the Cape of Storms.”

President Jacob Zuma has cancelled a trip to Cape Town to open the World News Media Congress because it is not possible to fly there.

BBC weather forecaster Philip Avery warns that Wednesday could bring in excess of 50mm of rain to some western areas of South Africa, accompanied by winds of 60-90km/h.

Coastal areas face the additional hazard of high tides, reinforced by storm waves, some of which may reach 10m.

Thursday should see conditions easing but a passing cold front will introduce much cooler weather in all areas.

In May, the Western Cape province declared a drought disaster after two reservoirs had completely dried up. It was said to have been the region’s worst drought in more than a century.

Several other southern African nations were also affected by the two-year drought, which was caused by the El Nino climate phenomenon.

However, many parts of the region are now experiencing bumper maize harvests.

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