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

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A severe storm or tornado has left a trail of destruction in Mthatha in the Eastern Cape. (SA Weather Service)
A severe storm or tornado has left a trail of destruction in Mthatha in the Eastern Cape. (SA Weather Service)
  • A severe storm with winds of up to 140km/h has left a trail of destruction in Mthatha in the Eastern Cape.
  • The provincial Department of Education is auditing the number of schools damaged by the storm.
  • The Eastern Cape transport department has warned motorists to drive with caution, as some of the province's roads are wet due to rain.

A severe storm, with winds up to 140km/h, has left a trail of destruction in Mthatha in the Eastern Cape.

Garth Sampson, spokesperson for the SA Weather Service's (SAWS) Port Elizabeth office, said the national office of the SAWS was studying the Mthatha incident.

"The office is studying the incident, because there was a confusion over whether it was a storm or a tornado. We are awaiting a full report from Johannesburg," he said.

Mthatha Airport, as well as an undisclosed number of schools and homes, were left with damage to walls, while roofs and doors were completely blown off during the severe weather conditions on Tuesday night.

The doors of the airport's terminal building, as well as of a nearby car rental building, were damaged by the storm, said Eastern Cape transport department spokesperson Khuselwa Rantjie.   

Meanwhile, the Eastern Cape Department of Education said the storm caused structural damages to classrooms and administration blocks.

A severe storm or tornado has left a trail of destruction in Mthatha in the Eastern Cape. (SA Weather Service)
Gwayibanjwa Senior Secondary School in the Eastern Cape, is one of many Mthatha schools that were left with structural damages due to a severe storm. (SA Weather Services)
The glass doors of the Mthatha Airport in the Eastern Cape were blown off the hinges by a severe storm with strong winds. (SA Weather Services)
(SA Weather Service)
(SA Weather Service)
(SA Weather Service)
weather,eastern cape storm
(SA Weather Service)
weather,eastern cape storm
(SA Weather Service)
weather,eastern cape storm
(SA Weather Service)

"We are still doing the full auditing of all the schools that were damaged by the storm. The severe weather is still amongst us in the Eastern Cape, it is still raining in some parts of the province. We will have a full report of the number of schools damaged by Friday," said provincial education spokesperson Malibongwe Mtima.

Sampson said: "It was a short-lived storm that hit at sunset and moved in from the west. It is [a] severe storm that passed over the Mthatha area and surrounds, causing damage most especially at the Mthatha Airport and the Ngwayibanjwa Senior Secondary School. Winds gusted from almost 0 to 140km/h in seconds."

Rantjie said: "The airport management is currently busy with a mopping up exercise while [the] cost of the damage has not yet been counted. At this stage airport operations have not been affected."

She warned motorists to drive with caution, as roads were slippery.

"We would like to warn motorists to drive, paying attention to the conditions of the road. It might be that you are traveling on a 120km zone, however, due to the fact that the road is wet and might be slippery, we advise that you reduce the speed accordingly. In some areas, there is [moisture] which might reduce visibility. As road users, we need to be extra cautious," said Rantjie.   

Mthatha residents on Facebook posted videos of the storm on Wednesday. 

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