Storm kills several, displaces thousands in Cape Town

Storm kills several, displaces thousands in Cape Town

Knysna, a town of 77,000 people 500 kilometres (310 miles) east of Cape Town on South Africa's famed Garden Route, was worst hit as firefighters battled to quell 26 fires along the tourist trail.

At least eight people have been killed and thousands displaced in the South African city of Cape Town after the worst storm in three decades storm unleashed heavy rains and high winds.

Local officials are now considering calling on the air force to help extinguish the blazes.

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Flames engulfed dozens of homes in Knysna and led to the closures of some stretches of a coastal highway. The storm is expected to abate by Thursday afternoon, he said.

The death toll in Knysna rose to five on Thursday, after a man died of a heart attack while being evacuated from his home.

Patients who were evacuated from the provincial hospital in Knysna were being cared for in the squash courts, clubhouse and other facilities of a sports complex, according to the newspaper.

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MTN has successfully restored connectivity to large parts of Knysna, in the Western Cape, following a devastating fire that has raged through the region, Knysna Plett Herald reports.

These include eight fire trucks from the City of Cape Town, two from the Overberg district and 12 additional Working on Fire teams. Power cuts were reported across the area.

The storm also forced President Jacob Zuma, who was in the city, to cancel a scheduled speech at an worldwide media conference in Durban, a city on the Indian Ocean coastline, his office said. "Such natural disasters always strike the poor more than most", Zuma said.

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While Cape Town badly needs rain following the worst drought on record, the downpour will only marginally alleviate water shortages, city authorities said.

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