Durban - Residents and officials were on Tuesday counting the cost of a freak storm that ripped through the community of Emmaus in northern KwaZulu-Natal.

Provincial co-operative governance and traditional affairs department spokesman Lennox Mabaso said the province's MECs would be visiting the area, about 15km from Bergville.

He said the storm that struck shortly after 5pm on Monday had put the 156-bed Emmaus hospital out of action.

Patients had been transferred to other provincial hospitals with some going as far afield as Grey's Hospital in Pietermaritzburg, about 200km away.

One person was killed in the storm and scores of properties, houses and a school were damaged in the storm that some residents said lasted less than 10 minutes.

Octogenarian Hlulekike Chonco said: “The skies were just black and there were strong winds. We just held on to each other and prayed.”

Chonco and fellow octogenarian Nomusa Ngcobo fled with Chonco's granddaughter Nondumiso to a shack when the roof of their house blew off.

Another woman, Hlengiwe Mhlanga, who was cutting wood from a tree uprooted in the storm, said she was taking the wood as she was without electricity.

“Everything is wet, including the panties I am wearing,” she said.

Pupils and parents could be seen viewing the damage to Bambazi High School, which had its roof ripped off.

Mabaso said one person was killed by lightening in uPhongolo and another 18 were reported to have been injured.

He said the department, which was responsible for disaster relief in the province, would issue another statement later on Tuesday. - Sapa