Disaster teams on high alert after lighting kills 6

2015-02-02 00:00

KWAZULU-NATAL emergency services are on high alert following the deaths of six people who were struck by lightning at the weekend.

Two elderly woman, aged between 70 and 80, and another man aged 60, were killed in Madulini, near Vryheid, when lightning struck the house they were in on Saturday afternoon.

KZN emergency services spokesperson Robert McKenzie said that paramedics on scene treated three other women who survived the attack.

“The paramedics treated three female patients. Two were aged 52 and the other was 49 years old. The women, who had survived the strike, were all in a serious condition and paramedics stabilised them on scene before transporting them to the local eDumbe Community Health Centre,” he said.

In a separate incident on Saturday, a woman (46), her daughter (nine) and her niece (10) were killed when lightning struck their Colenso home.

The woman’s husband survived the incident.

“Paramedics treated one of the neighbours for stress and shock after he came to assist just after the incident and was overwhelmed,” McKenzie said.

A spokesperson for the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Msawakhe Mayisela, said that the disaster management teams around the province were on high alert, especially during the summer months when certain areas were most affected by lightning strikes.

“The department will ensure that the deceased are buried in a dignified way, but no date has yet been set for the funerals,” he said.

Mayisela said that provincial disaster management projects and a centre opened up toward the end of last year assisted KZN in dealing incidents such as these.

“We are focusing on areas which had previously been neglected to ensure we have disaster management operations in place to assist areas which are affected all over the province,” he said.

South African Weather Services forecaster Aslam Sardiwalla said scattered thundershowers are predicted across the province for the rest of the week. “Lightning is a phenomenon that occurs with thunderstorms. Warnings cannot be issued for lightning as the severity of thunderstorms is judged by whether storms can potentially damage, produce strong winds or tornados, or produce large hail.”

As for the week ahead, Sardiwalla said a “watch” has been issued for the southern parts of the province for potential flooding from today.

“A 60% chance of isolated, scattered thundershowers is predicted across the province for Monday [today] and Tuesday [tomorrow], with Thursday favourable for similar conditions,” he said.

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