According to officials, up to 10,000 people have been evacuated from the coastal resort of Knysna (Western Cape region) due to significant wildfires caused by strong winds in excess of 50 km/h (30 mph) overnight of Wednesday, June 7, into Thursday, June, 8. The winter storms reportedly caused significant damage to properties and infrastructures in the town. A spokesman for the Western Cape local government ministry announced that humanitarian support is currently being coordinated to ensure the safety of 8000 to 10,000 residents of the greater Knysna area. According to the South African Weather Service, 37 mm (1.5 in) of rain fell at Cape Town International Airport (CPT), causing flight disruptions. Further transportation disruption are likely as of Thursday, June 8.
“Severe” weather warnings for the Western Cape region for Wednesday, June 7, and Thursday, June 8, by the South African Weather Service. Heavy rain and strong winds are forecast; subsequent flooding and coastal surges are possible through June 8. Metrorail services between Kraaifontein and Bellville were suspended (as of the afternoon of June 7) and all schools in the region were closed, including the University of Cape Town. Humanitarian aid has been dispatched to assist affected communities.
The storm is one of the worst in over 30 years. At least eight people have been killed, including four people who died in a fire caused by lightning. Hundreds of homes have been damaged or flooded by the rains, leaving thousands of residents homeless.
A “severe” weather warning indicates an extreme meteorological event or phenomenon, which represents a threat to human life and property.
Individuals present in the Western Cape region are advised to keep abreast of weather forecasts, follow all instructions as issued by local authorities (e.g. potential evacuation orders), and allow additional time to travel. Remember that driving or walking through running water can be dangerous; 15 cm (6 in) of running water is enough to knock an adult over.
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