8 die in path of twister

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free state tornado

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A flattened chalet on a farm in Rose Bay on the Vaal Dam where a 22-year-old student was killed when a tornado passed through. Photo: Handout/Supplied

Eight people died and another 76 were injured after suspected tornadoes and extremely strong winds lashed parts of the Free State and the Vaal Dam on Saturday evening.

Homes and other structures were destroyed in Oranjeville, Welkom, Kestel, Reitz and Bloemfontein.

ER24 spokesman Werner Vermaak said of the eight people who died, four were killed in their homes and the other four died in separate motor vehicle accidents caused by the storm.

The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) also reported that 14 students were trapped after their house collapsed in Rose Bay on the Vaal Dam. A 22-year-old man died on the scene as a result of severe head injuries and the others were rescued and treated for various minor injuries.

The 22-year-old university student, who had been celebrating the end of term with his friends, died of his injuries at the scene before paramedics could airlift him to hospital.

Police named the student as Jean Lawrence Coetzee, from Germiston, who was studying at North West University.

NSRI Vaal Dam station commander Dick Manten said a tornado ripped through Deneysville and the Vaal Dam area, tearing the jetty apart and causing at least three houses to collapse.

“The jetty at Manten Marina, Deneysville, has been ripped apart, one 7.5-ton boat was blown off its trailer, a number of boats have been ripped from their moorings and a further two boats were blown off their trailers,” Manten said.

ER24 responded to call from a holiday resort in Oranjeville and found that six people had been injured when a building collapsed. One person was killed and the other five were transported to a local hospital.

A bus carrying ANC Youth League members from a meeting crashed during the storm outside Bethlehem. Fifty-eight were injured and four ANCYL members died.

Netcare911 spokesman Jeffrey Wicks said a woman was killed when high winds collapsed four shacks on a farm outside Bethlehem.

“She had sustained significant traumatic injuries when she was struck by a piece of corrugated iron.

“No one else was injured,” Wicks said.

Her name is yet to be released.

Another man died after being crushed by rubble, while another five sustained minor injuries.

In Kestel, 30 homes were destroyed, said the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs.

“There are 30 households affected in Tlholong township,” spokeswoman Senne Bogatsu said.

Free State police spokesman Peter Kareli said a caravan had been reduced to its frame and wheels.

WeatherSA forecaster Michael Nethavani said the storm appeared to have been a tornado.

sibusiso.nkomo@inl.co.za

Cape Argus

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