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Deadly ‘supercell’ storm scatters ships in South Africa

  • 11 October 2017
  • From the section Africa

Image copyright Blue Security via Reuters
Image caption A container ship blocked the harbour mouth after drifting away

Moored ships were blown away as a “supercell thunderstorm” swept through South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal region, killing at least eight people.

The dead include a child swept away by rising waters and two patients killed when a wall collapsed at the Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital, near Durban, the region’s main city.

Image copyright Rescue Care via Reuters
Image caption Motorists were stranded for hours as gale force winds and heavy rains hit the coastal region

KwaZulu-Natal and other parts of the country were hit by a “supercell thunderstorm”, the South African Weather Service said.

Such storms are characterised by a persistently rotating updraft like a tornado.

Image copyright Rescue Care via Reuters

“Satellite pictures show lightning over the sea and it seems to be moving off the coastline,” Weather Service spokesman Hannelee Doubell was quoted by South Africa’s TimesLive news site as saying.

The storm forced the closure of the Port of Durban, one of the busiest in Africa, on Tuesday.

Three vessels were grounded while others broke mooring lines and drifted in the channel, the port authority said in a statement.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The storm caused widespread destruction

Emergency rescue worker Paul Herbst said a little girl had been washed away by floodwaters in Umlazi, a residential area south of Durban.

“A creche lying close to a nearby river flooded,” he told the privately owned IOL news site.

“The teacher from the creche managed to grab three of the children. Unfortunately a fourth child got swept down to the river in the floods.”

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Durban’s King Edward VIII Hospital was also flooded

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