Health Care

8 dead as storm brings rain to drought-hit Cape Town

Toy gun. File

The victims included four people who died in a fire caused by lightning and one who was killed when a house collapsed.

A ferocious storm killed eight people as it pummelled South Africa's west coast on Wednesday, forcing the closure of Cape Town harbour, triggering flash floods and causing extensive damage, authorities said.

The Western Cape storm is expected to dump more than 50mm of rain in some areas and trigger waves of up to 12 metres.

The storm hit the Cape Peninsula early on Wednesday morning, which some have described as the "worst storm in living memory".

As many shared genuine pictures of the storm and its aftermath on social media, still others used the turmoil to circulate doctored videos.

Western Cape residents should brace themselves for snowfall following the strong winds and heavy rains that have gripped the province.

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Provincial Disaster Management and the South African Weather Service briefed cabinet on the possible impact of the severe weather in the province.

The storm comes at the end of the region's worst drought in a century.

"Residents living in informal settlements will probably be the hardest hit", Charlotte Powell, Cape Town city's disaster management spokeswoman said.

"We will be working with schools to ensure that the programme returns to normal [on Thursday] and we request their understanding and cooperation in the circumstances", he said.

"The public is cautioned to stay away from Western Cape beaches throughout the day", Styan said.

As a result of the severe warning issued by the weather service, the Western Cape Education Department has taken the decision to close schools in the area on Wednesday "in the interest of learner and educator safety".