Johannesburg - Fifty-five homes have been damaged in an apparent tornado in Kestel, in the Free State, the provincial co-operative governance and traditional affairs department said on Sunday.

“Following assessments by different teams, the joint operation centre (JOC) has reported that a total of 55 houses have been partially and diversely damaged, with three of these totally ruined,” said spokesperson Senne Bogastu in a statement.

Two more streets remained to be assessed for damage on Monday. A report would then be compiled.

Bogastu earlier on Sunday blamed the destruction on a tornado, and Weather SA forecaster Michael Nethavani said the storm did appear to have been a tornado.

“According to the reports we are getting in, it was a tornado,” he said.

“We are still in the dark as to where it happened,” he said, but added that it would have hit somewhere in the eastern part of the province.

Bogastu said electricity had been partially restored in some parts of the affected area.

Five people were taken to hospital, one of whom was “seriously affected”.

Six households in the Eeram area were also affected by the storm, but Bogatsu did not say how they were affected. Four people were taken to hospital.

The JOC required more food parcels and blankets. The Red Cross donated 60 blankets to be delivered on Monday. A group of women from a local church were providing soup and bread for 150 people.

Two farmers in the area offered to provide hot lunch for 300 people until Wednesday.

Bogatsu said a community hall was still being used as an evacuation centre while others were taking shelter with community members who offered to help. - Sapa