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Freaky weather lashes SA

Published Oct 22, 2012

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Cape Town - Rescuers saved people clinging to the roofs of their cars from a flooded river in Napier after they were swept off bridges due to heavy downpours at the weekend.

Heavy rains across the country caused havoc. Eight people have reportedly died in floods across the Eastern Cape. In Gauteng, a hailstorm damaged cars and broke windows.

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On Saturday morning, a man drove over a bridge and his car was washed into the river, Overberg fire chief Reinard Geldenhuys said on Sunday.

Geldenhuys said Byron Lombard had been on his way to retrieve a vehicle that had been washed away earlier when his breakdown vehicle was also washed away around 2am. When rescuers found him, Lombard had been on top of his vehicle for four hours. He was treated for hypothermia.

In a separate incident, a man, his wife and child were also swept into the river while driving over a different bridge, Geldenhuys said.

“The family were rescued by a farmer. They were also found clinging to the roof of their vehicle. In an incident later in the afternoon, a man was swept away by the river after running away from the police. He disappeared and has not been found.”

In the Eastern Cape, a section of the N2 between Grahamstown and Port Elizabeth collapsed on Saturday night, the provincial government said.

The road has been closed and traffic is being diverted from Port Elizabeth to the N10 through Cookhouse.

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Before the road collapsed, a truck caught in the floods overturned. Police, divers and a rescue team were called to save the passengers.

Also in the Eastern Cape early on Sunday, National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) volunteeers rescued a group of 76 people and a dog near the Swartskop River in Port Elizabeth. They had been cut off from the mainland by the swollen river.

NSRI spokesman Craig Lambinon said: “Once the group had, one by one, commenced crossing the river, our volunteers aided the elderly and assisted where necessary to get everyone, and the dog, safely across the river.” Lambinon said no one was injured.

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Gauteng was hit by a severe hailstorm on Saturday afternoon, resulting in a number of road accidents, including three separate crashes on the N1 highway in Midrand that left two people injured.

The hailstorm, which hit Midrand and some eastern suburbs of Joburg, damaged cars and broke windows at homes and businesses.

On Thursday, 32 hikers were rescued after being trapped on the Whale Trail near Bredasdorp because of heavy rain. The hikers were airlifted by an Airforce helicopter, called in by the Disaster Management Unit of the municipality, after CapeNature officials could not reach them on land. None of the hikers was injured

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The SA Weather Service has warned that heavy rains are expected to continue in the southern parts of the Western and Eastern Cape.

On Monday the weather will be partly cloudy in the southwest and south with isolated showers.

The minimum temperature will be 14°C with a maximum of 20°C.

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