Africa

Cape Town storm kills eight

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Media captionWaves crash into Cape Town car park, courtesy of Walter Mashupa

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, officials say. Thousands of people have been left homeless.

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.

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

It is the worst winter storm for 30 years, according to the South African Weather Service, while local media have dubbed it "the mother of all storms".

'Worst yet to come'

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

Image copyright Alex De Kock
Image caption Alex De Kock watched on Signal Hill in Cape Town as the storm approached
Image copyright EPA
Image caption Windsurfer Jake Kolnik rode the waves of the storm
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Weather foracasters warn the predicted rainfall could lead to localised flooding
Image copyright Aziz Samaai
Image caption Fallen trees have caused roads to close across Cape Town

Many people have been injured by flying debris.

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.

Onele Ndesi from Western Cape Disaster Management predicts that "the worst is yet to come".

The bad weather forced President Jacob Zuma to cancel his plan to fly from Cape Town to Durban to open the World News Media Congress.

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.

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Media captionForecast: Warnings of wildfires

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.

He also warns that the strong winds could lead to wildfires because the countryside is so dry.

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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