Ficksburg calm, for now

2011-10-05 10:32

No thunderstorms are expected over the next seven days in the Ficksburg area, Free State, which was hit by a tornado on Sunday, the South African Weather Service (SAWS) has said.

The SAWS’ Edwin Thema said the service does not forecast tornados as such, but tornados are sometimes part of a thunderstorm. “As soon as we forecast a severe thunderstorm, it means the storm can include a tornado,” said Thema.

He said the service did issue a warning on Saturday for a severe thunderstorm.

Approximately 350 people were left homeless in Ficksburg when the tornado ripped through the town on Sunday afternoon.

Jabu Mbalula, spokesperson for the Free State Health department, said the situation was bad.

“It just looks like a really big pile of rubble everywhere.”

Mbalula said 43 people received medical treatment. Three were transferred to Bethlehem for, among others, head injuries. Seven people were admitted to hospital in Ficksburg. Mbalula said others were treated for minor injuries.

Senior officials from the provincial health department, department of cooperative governance and the social development department have been deployed to Ficksburg. They are cooperating with the municipality and the Red Cross.

Mbalula said a total of 122 houses have been destroyed. He said a disaster centre has been set up at the offices of the Setsotho municipality and schools and churches will be used as temporary accommodation for homeless families.

“The department of social development is going to provide blankets, clothes and food parcels.”

Mbalula said big businesses in the area have been very helpful with providing food. He said members of the public who would like to donate food, blankets or clothes can drop it off at the disaster centre.

Senne Bogatsu, the spokesperson for the provincial department of cooperative governance, said food had been secured for all the people for at least four days.

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