10000 evacuated, 4 dead as fires engulf South African town

10000 evacuated, 4 dead as fires engulf South African town

The South African military said it had placed a helicopter on standby to help with any emergency evacuations in Western Cape province, which includes Cape Town.

Millions of people in shanty towns, who have previously had to cope with the region's worst drought in a century, have been hardest hit, with floods and heavy rain washing away homes built of planks and zinc sheets.

Wind speeds from the storm, which struck late Tuesday, were as fast as 100 kilometers (62 miles) per hour, and sea swells reached as high as 12 meters (39 feet).

A vehicle is washed over by a huge wave that slammed into the promenade during heavy storms in the Sea Point neighborhood of Cape Town. By Thursday, some rain had fallen and the situation had improved; disaster management officials sought to provide aid to residents who had fled their homes.

The weather also caused chaos throughout the city, knocking out electricity and cancelling flights and rail services. Teams of workers were deployed to remove branches and other debris from roads and restore power connections.

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Schools across the area remained closed with a staggering 69 of them suffering damage.

Four people have died, at least 150 properties have been destroyed and up to 10,000 people have been evacuated.

Fanned by gale winds, the fires have swept through Knysna along the scenic Garden Route since Wednesday, destroying hundreds of houses and forcing the evacuation of more than 4,000 people, Knysna Fire Chief Clint Manuel said. "It comes on the back of the worst storm seen in the Western Cape in at least 30 years‚" Styan said.

"The fire continues to burn on two broad fronts", the ministry said in an emailed statement.

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

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