Gale-force winds, which wreaked havoc across the Peninsula, claimed their first victim after an eight-year-old girl suffered a fractured leg after being struck by a falling tree at Weltevrede Primary School in Rawsonville.
EMS spokeswoman Keri Davids said paramedics freed the child yesterday morning, then transported her to Worcester Hospital. She was in a stable condition after undergoing surgery, Health Department spokeswoman Jo-Anne Otto said. Yesterday the south-easter was pumping at speeds between 37km/h and 46km/h and was today expected to abate slightly to between 26 and 37km/h.
Damage has been widespread, including power outages and roofs being blown off homes. Last night roof sheets were blown off a backyard dwelling in Nomzamo, in Strand.
Disaster Risk Management spokesman Wilfred Solomons-Johannes said a wood and iron backyard dwelling in Macassar also had its roof damaged yesterday, while five shacks in the Vlakteplaas informal settlement in Strand also suffered serious damage.
The city responded to 58 incidents of overhead power supply damage, and 103 trees were blown over.
The city confirmed several power outages after a Pinelands man said he had been without power for 24 hours. The city’s Kylie Hatton said outages also occurred in Kensington, Sea Point, Bonteheuwel, Kraaifontein, Philippi, Factreton and Maitland.
“There is no single cause. In some areas it is due to poles having been knocked down and in others it is due to area faults,” she said, adding that the electricity services department was working hard to bring people back on line as quickly as possible.
The wind has kept several ships trapped in Cape Town harbour, according to
port spokesman Coen Birkenstock, who said one tanker, two container ships and two break bulk carriers were affected.
“Certain ships are affected, depending on vessel type and characteristics.”
The MSC Sinfonia cruise ship has also been stuck in the harbour since Thursday.
Allan Foggitt, Mediterranean Shipping Company marketing and sales director, said once they could leave, it would be for a “nowhere cruise”, returning to Cape Town on Monday before leaving for Walvis Bay next Wednesday.
MSC operations manager Rob McEwan said:
“The wind speed is 65 knots (120km/h). It’s been between 50 and 70 knots (93 to 130km/h) since Wednesday, which is absolutely gale-force.” Some passengers had decided to get their passports stamped and leave the cruise, but regulations prevented them from reboarding.
Metrorail reported that a tree had been blown over and on to the track at Dal Josafat on the Kraaifontein-Muldersvlei-Wellington line. A mechanical linkage atop a train near Muldersvlei also became entangled in overhead power lines, while signal power failure affected trains in Eerste River.
The city has put contingency plans in place for tomorrow’s switching on of the Christmas lights ceremony, set for the Grand Parade from 3pm.
Solomons-Johannes said sufficient personnel would be on site to ensure safety, but urged everyone to exercise caution.