Heavy flooding and snow keeps SA on its toes

Western Cape emergency workers have successfully battled against heavy flooding and snow at the weekend. (Gallo)

Western Cape emergency workers have successfully battled against heavy flooding and snow at the weekend. (Gallo)

Provincial disaster risk chief Colin Deiner said about 500 vehicles were freed from heavy snow in Beaufort West.

He said a metre and a half of snow had fallen.

In the Southern Cape, a number of roads were closed due to flooding following heavy rains.

"There was a lot of localised flooding in Knysna, George and Mossel Bay ... we were very fortunate in that a lot of pro-active work was done and we breached a lot of river mouths," he told the radio station.

Cape Town disaster risk centre spokesperson Wilfred Solomons-Johannes said villagers from Sir Lowry's Pass had been hardest hit by flooding and were accommodated in a community hall.

According to the Cape Times, rocks were dislodged on Sir Lowry's Pass on Sunday, hitting two cars.

Roads opened
Twelve people, including six children, sustained minor scratches and bruises. The N2, which was jammed with cars driving home after the school holidays, was closed for a while to clear the rocks.

Roads throughout the Eastern Cape were also reopened following a weekend of snow and heavy rainfall, police said.

"There are no more roads closed on this side," Lieutenant-Colonel Mzukisi Fatyela said.

The N6 that passes Queenstown and Aliwal North was closed over the weekend due to the bad weather.

Fatyela said while the weather was improving, it was still very cold, with snow on the mountains.

On Sunday Fatyela confirmed a man (69) and a woman (44) froze to death in Mqanduli and Mthatha.
They were found lying by the roadside.

Three other people drowned in Port Elizabeth, SABC radio reported. Fatyela could not confirm this.

Icy surfaces
On Sunday paramedics came to the aid of 41 people trapped in the Butha Buthe pass en route to Afri-Ski and the Oxborn Lodge in Lesotho, ER24 spokesperson Werner Vermaak said.

Rescuers arrived at the scene at 11am on Sunday.

"They found that almost 30 vehicles were either stuck, or involved in collisions as they skidded on the icy surface," said Vermaak.

The scene stretched out over 1.5km. Several people had slight hypothermia and were dehydrated.

A diabetic whose medication had run out was in need of urgent help. Another person with asthma was also treated.

All 41 were transported to a temporary clinic erected in Fouriesburg.

On Monday Vermaak said everyone had been cleared from the area and the road leading from the lodges to the border should be reopened later in the day. – Sapa

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