More thunderstorms to lash Eastern Cape after 6 die during heavy rains, strong winds

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There have been more warnings of inclement weather in Eastern Cape.
There have been more warnings of inclement weather in Eastern Cape.
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  • Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane to visit families of six people killed during severe thunderstorms in the OR Tambo district on Thursday.
  • Eskom announced that work to restore electricity to thousands people was scuppered due to thunderstorms on Sunday.
  • SA Weather Service warned that the province will be hit by more severe thunderstorms with heavy downpours and damaging winds.

Six people were crushed to death, 19 injured and 142 others left homeless after severe thunderstorms wreaked havoc in the Eastern Cape, destroying homes in parts of the OR Tambo district municipality last week. 

Livestock, including 179 sheep, 13 goats and 41 chickens were also killed.

While locals were still reeling from last week's devastation, the SA Weather Service (SAWS) on Monday issued another yellow level 4 warning for more thunderstorms in the same area and over the eastern parts of the province. 

"These storms could contain large amounts of small hail, heavy downpours, excessive lighting and strong damaging winds," said SAWS. 

The public was advised to follow SAWS media platforms for the latest warnings and weather developments.

READ | Eastern Cape storm: Severe weather wreaks havoc at Mthatha airport, damages schools and homes

The severe thunderstorms were expected to hit between noon and midnight on Monday and expected to cause damage to infrastructure, settlements and livestock.

"Falling trees with flying debris can also be expected due to strong winds," said SAWS. The weather authority added that disruptions to municipal and other services could be expected. 

"Heavy downpours are expected to result in localised flooding of susceptible roads, low-lying areas and bridges and possibly to cause major traffic disruptions and incidents," said SAWS.

The Siyazama Ntilini Pre-School was also damaged, while infrastructure like electricity power lines and electricity meter boxes were also damaged.

Died

The Gqunu Bridge in Mhlontlo ward 17 was washed away.

OR Tambo District Municipality spokesperson Zimkhitha Macingwane confirmed that six people had died and 19 injured due to the storms.

On Monday, Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane was expected to visit the families of those who had lost their loved ones. 

Mabuyane would also be visiting initiation schools also affected, where initiates were injured due to the storms.

The injured had been taken to hospital, said Mabuyane's spokesperson Khusela Rantjie.

ALSO READ | Woman crushed to death, dozens displaced after tornado tears through Eastern Cape

Eskom announced on Monday it was making gains in restoring power supply to thousands of customers who left in the dark due to damages to infrastructure following storms last Thursday and Friday.

Further losses also occurred when the province experienced yet another storm on Sunday. 

Eskom provincial spokesperson Themba Mtshaulana said the additional losses were mostly in Amathole, Alfred Nzo and Chris Hani Districts.  

He said Eskom had experienced major setbacks as more storms made landfall across the Eastern Cape on Sunday.

Mtshaulana said Eskom technicians continued to work toward ensuring electricity was restored.

"We urge customers to be patient and to treat all electricity appliances as live during this time," added Mtshaulana.

Thursday's deadly storm hit King Sabata Dalindyebo municipality (Mthatha), Nyandeni local municipality (Libode) and Mhlontlo local municipality (Qumbu). 

SAWS meteorologist Lelo Kleinbooi said there was a number of severe storms on the day, but the one that caused immense damage over Baziya village reached the area around 17h34 and Mthatha around 17h42. 

Downpours

The severe thunderstorms were associated with large amounts of hail, strong damaging winds, heavy downpours leading to flash flooding and excessive lightning, said Kleinbooi.   

She added that these severe thunderstorms could be expected around this time of the year as they were more frequent during summer. 

READ | Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane supports Shell's plans in Wild Coast

Explaining this specific weather pattern, Kleinbooi said: "There was a surface trough over the western parts of the country together with upper air perturbations which are favourable conditions for development of thunderstorms."

Kleinbooi added that moreover, there were very high instabilities, one of the ingredients required for severe thunderstorm development.

"Thus, the severe thunderstorms occurred or observed over parts of the province, especially over OR Tambo District Municipality. These severe storms were associated with damaging winds, hail, excessive lightning and heavy downpours,” she added. 

The provincial government urged the public in distress to contact the Disaster Risk Management Centre on 047 501 6494 or WhatsApp 073 205 6465.

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