KwaZulu-Natal - For five minutes on Wednesday afternoon, some residents of Mooi River and Estcourt feared the Mayan prophecy was coming true, albeit two days early: the world was going to end.

At about 5pm, the sun disappeared, blackness filled the sky and hail and rain pelted down. Minutes later, a tornado swept through the towns, causing destruction, mainly on farms.

In Estcourt on the farm Freyflan, manager Barry van Vuuren said he was in his van moments before the tornado struck. The vehicle’s temperature gauge showed 29.5°C .

“It was a very hot day,” Van Vuuren said. “All of a sudden it went pitch dark. The rain and hail started pelting down. Then I noticed something swirling in the sky. “At that point I thought, oh my God, the world is going to end,” he said. “Everyone had been talking about the Mayan prophecy the whole week.”

According to the Mayan prediction, today marks the end of a 5 125-year cycle in the Mayan Long Calendar, which some have interpreted as the end of the world.

Van Vuuren said that as the wind speed picked up, the tornado grew bigger and bigger.

He said the freak storm lasted for about five minutes.

“It disappeared within minutes. The sun came out, it was like nothing happened.”

He said minimal damage was caused at his farm.

But, the owners of Greenfields Farm, in District Road, Mooi River, were not so lucky.

Peter Oberholster described a similar scene to the one Van Vuuren witnessed. “We were outside at the time. The wind speed picked up and it seemed like the clouds were moving very fast. The next thing, a tornado appeared.”

Oberholster said that after the tornado disappeared, the farm was battered by a hail storm. “We still do not have water. We were not prepared for the tornado. It was crazy, freak.”

Weather Service forecaster Wiseman Dlamini said severe thunderstorms had been recorded in the area on Wednesday and a weather warning had been issued. He said more severe thunderstorms were predicted in KZN tonight and at the weekend.

Dlamini described a tornado as a strong column of air extending from a thunderstorm to the ground.

He said tornadoes usually lasted for a few minutes, but could cause great destruction in that time. - Daily News