Published: Fri, June 09, 2017
Research | By Chelsea Rogers

S African fires force '10000 to flee'

S African fires force '10000 to flee'

Other deaths occurred in Cape Town and parts of Western Cape Province.

James Styan, a spokesman for the Western Cape local government, said between 8,000 and 10,000 people have been evacuated from their homes due to the fires.

Knysna, a town of 77,000 people 500 km 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 were killed as winds reached around 100 kilometres per hour and heavy rain and huge waves battered much of the Western Cape, including Cape Town, where the fatalities all occurred.

In a televised media briefing, Western Cape local government official said the body of another person was found Thursday, bringing the total of those killed to nine.

Flames engulfed dozens of homes in Knysna and led to the closures of some stretches of a coastal highway.

The storm had largely abated by Thursday morning, a damage assessment got under way and schools that were closed on Wednesday reopened.

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However, strong winds and billowing smoke made it hard for emergency responders to use helicopters, the African News Agency reported.

Official statements report that Brenton‚ Belvedere‚ Welbedacht‚ Nania‚ Eastford‚ Green Pastures and Knysna Heights had been evacuated so far. However, hundreds of homes were flooded or damaged, authorities said. Power cuts were reported across the area.

While Friday is expected to be dry, more rain is forecast for Cape Town over the next six days, according to the South African Weather Service.

Eden District Municipality says flare-ups are causing most distress as residents are being urged to evacuate the area.

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