10000 evacuated, 4 dead as fires engulf South African town

At least eight people have been killed in the storms and fires that have been raging in the town and other areas of the Western Cape region.

In Cape Town, hundreds of makeshift homes belonging to poor residents were damaged by floods and high wind. Authorities say up to 4000 people remain displaced.

“To date between 8,000 and 10,000 Knysna inhabitants have been safely evacuated”.

The town mayor, Eleanore Bouw-Spies, described the fires as the worst in decades.

A powerful storm packing gale-force winds, lightning and torrential rains hit Western Cape on Tuesday, felling trees, tearing the roofs off shanty houses and causing traffic chaos as roads shut.

In Knysna, numerous areas hit were in upmarket neighborhoods. “We’re scared to stay in my shack”, she added from a shelter in Cape Town.

It added that the president was “extremely concerned by the loss of life, displacement of people and total devastation that have been visited on the residents of the Western Cape including Knysna, Plettenburg Bay in the Cape Peninsula and all affected areas as a result of the severe weather and heavy storms”.

Three Anchor Bay, Sea Point, tonight.

The storm forced President Jacob Zuma, who was in Cape Town, to cancel a speech to an global media conference in Durban, a city on the Indian Ocean coastline, his office said.

According to reports the fire in Knysna is the largest and most destructive fire in a built up area in the Western Cape.

Schools were also closed on Wednesday due to the storm.

The South African Weather Service said high winds were expected in the region into Thursday.

“The first delivery of bottled water destined for Cape Town is now re-routed to Knysna and is a few hours away from the town”.

On Wednesday, authorities urged residents to capture rain from the storm in containers for flushing toilets and other needs.

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