#KnysnaFire: High winds preventing SANDF choppers from fighting blazes

2017-06-08 13:51
(Pic: Gallo Images)

(Pic: Gallo Images)

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Cape Town - High winds are preventing three SA National Defence Force (SANDF) helicopters from flying in to help fight major fires in Knysna and the Eden District Municipality in the Southern Cape.

Nearly 8 000 people were evacuated from the coastal town on Wednesday afternoon and during the night due to blazes that have destroyed more than 150 buildings, including a number of schools.

About 400 firefighters from across the province are fighting a number of blazes in the Eden Municipality. 

At a disaster management briefing in Tygerberg on Wednesday morning, Western Cape disaster management chief Colin Deiner said gale force winds had made it impossible for the SANDF helicopters to deploy.

Officials also announced that a three-year old-child had been found dead in Welbedacht, due to "fire related causes".

LIVE: #KnysnaFire claims life of 3-year-old

It is not yet known what exactly caused the child's death.

"We know it is a three-year-old. We are not sure whether it is a male or female yet," said Deiner.

A total of nine people have been killed as a result of storms in the Western Cape and fires in the Southern Cape.

The provincial government is ramping up efforts to get relief supplies to Knysna and other affected areas.

Courier company DHL would ferry supplies and public donations.

"DHL have a worldwide system, where they help provide disaster response," said Deiner. "They provided us with an offer of assistance this morning. They will be providing us with transportation and logistics."

Finance MEC Ivan Meyer on Wednesday morning called on the diplomatic corps to help by providing donations and supplies.

Deiner said the Knysna provincial hospital had been evacuated during the night, with the help of a team that travelled from Cape Town.

Some patients were taken to other hospitals, while some were housed in a hall where a temporary ward had to be erected.

"The problem we had last night is that Knysna was completely cut off. So we had to evacuate people within Knysna, " said Deiner.

Premier Helen Zille - and provincial MECs Donald Grant, Alan Winde and Nomafrench Mbombo - were on their way to fire-affected areas in the Southern Cape.

Read more on:    sandf  |  knysna  |  fires

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