130 people trapped by heavy snowfalls in E-Cape

About 130 people remain trapped in their vehicles in the northern parts of the Eastern Cape by the heavy snowfalls that have blocked roads and cut off several towns in the province.

Disaster management co-ordinator Captain John Fobian, speaking to Sapa from the area shortly after 1.30pm on Friday, said bad weather was hampering rescue efforts.

The whole area around Indwe and Elliot was covered in about half a metre of snow, and without electricity.

”We’ve got bulldozers and graders on the roads in the Ugie, Indwe and Cala areas trying to push the snow to the side.

”We have successfully retrieved one bus and one car out of the area, and we have taken them back to Indwe, but there are still various other vehicles and buses stuck in the snow.”

All efforts were now focused on getting through to the people trapped in these vehicles.

Fobian said about 130 people were still trapped.

”The situation is serious, taking into account that these people have been in those vehicles and in the cold for up to 12 hours.

”We don’t know what food and liquid they’ve got, and if any of them have medical problems.

”We’re trying to get to them as quickly as possible, but unfortunately the weather is not playing ball.

”We can’t get aircraft up due to the conditions.”

This had prevented the SAAF from flying rescue missions, and the local SAPS helicopter was also grounded.

About 200 people were involved in the rescue, he said.

According to reports, more snow is forecast for the region later on Friday. – Sapa

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Richard Davies
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