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Durban - Seven people were killed and four seriously injured when they were struck by lightning in Mthonjaneni, KwaNongoma on Saturday, the KwaZulu-Natal cooperative governance and traditional affairs department said.

Spokesman Lennox Mabaso said: “The deceased were participating in a traditional ceremony hosted by the Khoza family (one of the neighbours),” said Mabaso.

“Preliminary reports indicate that they were inside one of the houses when a bolt of lightning struck.”

Paramedics from the province's Emergency Medical Services responded and the four injured people were rushed to hospital with serious injuries.

The province's MEC for cooperative governance and traditional Affairs (Cogta), Nomusa Dube-Ncube deployed disaster management staff to the scene, and to offer support to the affected families.

“Our hearts go out to the families of these victims and the entire communities which continue to suffer from the effects of natural disasters,” she said.

Residents are still reeling after lightning killed six people in the area of Colenso and Paulpietersburg two weeks ago.

A shocked Mabaso said the names of the victims were available but they would be withheld until family members had been informed.

He said the MEC had just recently been to the funerals of three people in Paulpietersburg, near Vryheid. who were struck by lightning.

On January 31, the two women, aged between 70 and 80, and a man, believed to be in his sixties, were confirmed dead at the scene.

On the same day, near Colenso, a 46-year-old mother, her nine-year-old daughter and her 10-year-old niece died when lightning struck their house.

Cogta's disaster management teams were on high alert while storms hit the province and were ready to help affected families and individuals.