Gale-force winds topple trucks and close N3

2009-06-26 00:00

FIVE trucks travelling on the N3 were toppled by yesterday’s gusting winds.

The KZN department of Transport said the winds between Van Reenen’s Pass and Ladysmith were so strong yesterday that authorities were forced to close the toll highway for almost five hours.

They made this decision after the five heavy trucks travelling on the southbound carriageway were blown over by gale-force winds.

Transport Department spokeswoman Zinhle Mngomezulu said that by lunchtime, four trucks had been pushed over. She said the pass was reopened to light vehicles after almost five hours, but that heavy trucks were not being allowed through.

“Although the pass is open, the wind is getting worse and we are appealing to drivers to drive cautiously and very slowly,” she said.

KZN MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison Bheki Cele echoed her caution, saying: “We urge all motorists, especially those using the N3, to be more alert and careful on the road. Heavy winds, storms and runaway fires pose a huge road safety challenge, particularly during this season.”

Cele said such conditions are a major contributor to accidents in the province.

“It is on that score that we urge all our road users to keep to the rule of the road and just do right.”

No casualties have been reported as a result of wind-related accidents.

Motorists who were reluctant to drive over the pass were advised to take the R103 at Frere and join the N11 to Newcastle.

Wisani Maluleke of the South African Weather Service said that conditions in the area are likely to change by this morning, although winds are expected to intensify near Newcastle.

Sapa, quoting police, reports that a 14-year-old girl was killed and two other girls were seriously injured when strong winds ripped the roof off an Eastern Cape school yesterday.

Superintendent Mzukisi Fatyela said a wall collapsed and fell on to the three children when strong winds ripped off the roof of the school at Ntlonyana, Elliotdale, at around 10.30 am.

Fatyela said the two girls were in a serious condition in hospital.

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