/ 3 October 2011

Deadly tornadoes wreak havoc in Duduza, Ficksburg

Two children were killed and hundreds of people left homeless after tornadoes ripped through Duduza, east of Jo'burg and Ficksburg in the Free State.

Two children have been killed and hundreds of people left homeless as tornadoes ripped through Duduza near Johannesburg and Ficksburg in the Free State.

Mopping up operations continued in Ficksburg on Monday morning after a tornado hit the eastern Free State town at about 2pm on Sunday.

Beeld newspaper named the nine-year-old boy killed in the storm as Jama Mokhekhe, who was so far the only known casualty.

Two people were seriously injured, and dozens suffered minor injuries.

"[It] has killed one and left more than 1 000 houses destroyed," said Netcare 911 spokesperson Chris Botha.

SABC radio news reported that residents were returning to their homes on Monday morning, in attempts to reconstruct their shacks at Meqheleng township.

Those displaced had been provided with alternative accommodation.

Emergency service officials said they had never seen a storm of such magnitude.

Duduza struck
Duduza township near Nigel, east of Johannesburg was also hit on Sunday evening by a tornado that killed an eight-year-old child died and injured 166 people, an Ekurhuleni official said on Monday.

"One-hundred-and-sixty-six people were treated and transported to various nearby hospitals such as Pholosong in Tsakane and Far East Rand hospital in Springs," said Ekurhuleni spokesperson Justice Mohale in a statement.

"The … tornado that wrecked havoc in Masechaba Extension 2 in Duduza (close to Nigel), [left] an eight-year-old child dead [and] completely destroyed over 150 houses."

Emergency workers described the scene as resembling the aftermath of "a Hollywood disaster movie", he said.

The tornado struck at about 9.30pm, Ekurhuleni mayoral spokesperson Prince Hamnca said on Sunday night.

The R550 road in Nigel had been closed because of fallen trees.

Gauteng health provincial minister Ntombi Mekgwe and Ekurhuleni mayor Mondli Gungubele were on the scene, said Hamnca. — Sapa