Zikalala, officials to visit site of Pietermaritzburg tornado destruction

DURBAN – KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala and two of his cabinet members will on Wednesday visit the areas affected by a tornado that ripped through areas of New Hanover, just outside Pietermaritzburg, on Tuesday afternoon.

The province’s MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Sipho Hlomuka, who will accompany Zikalala, said late on Tuesday night several households were “swept away” in the rural areas of Mpolweni and Thokozani, which fall under the uMshwathi local municipality, as a result of the tornado.

KZN finance MEC Ravi Pillay will accompany Zikalala and Hlomuka on their assessment tour.

Disaster management teams worked throughout the night on Tuesday to assist those affected by the tornado.

KZN spokesman  for the cooperative governance and traditional affairs department Lennox Mabaso told African News Agency (ANA) on Wednesday that there had been reports of fatalities, but these had not yet been confirmed.

“We are on our way to the area to speak to [responders and other authorities] and once we have this information, we will convene a media briefing with all relevant details,” Mabaso said.

Homes were flattened and roofs ripped off when a tornado hit the rural areas in New Hanover, just outside Pietermaritzburg, late on Tuesday afternoon. Video: Supplied.

Eskom said one of its substations was also damaged in the tornado.

The South African Weather Service (SAWS) told ANA on Tuesday night that November was typically associated with high storm, hail and rainfall activity.

SAWS posted an alert on its official twitter account warning that “hoax” messages had been doing the rounds of other tornados forming in the province.

Three people have died since Sunday, when the inclement weather hit the province. A young woman was struck by lighting in the north over the weekend and an elderly Inanda couple died in their beds when their home collapsed during strong rain on Monday.

KwaZulu-Natal’s disaster management teams have been placed on high alert. While there is a short respite expected on Wednesday morning, downpours are expected to continue in the evening and into the weekend.

African News Agency (ANA)

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