The Star Early Edition

Storms bring relief, cause damage

- SHAIN GERMANER

THE EXTREME heat and drought conditions of last week have caused at least 11 deaths and ravaged crops across the country. And as rain was welcomed on Saturday afternoon, the gentle drizzle transforme­d into a severe thundersto­rm that left five people injured and triggered major property damage.

The Sunday Times reported that as the heatwave peaked on Thursday and Friday, 11 people – aged between 22 and 58 – died from heatstroke at Mahikeng and Taung in North West.

The rainstorms over the central part of the country transforme­d from a welcome respite from the heat into a hailstorm that injured five people. Krugersdor­p’s Key West Mall was badly affected, as the deluge caused the roof to collapse over one section. Five people were hit by the falling debris, and paramedics transporte­d them to hospital.

Meanwhile, a bar at the top of the Aerial Cableway at Hartbeespo­ort Dam was gutted by a fire triggered by lightning. The manager of the cableway, Iain Dunn, said no one was injured in the blaze, and that while the bar had been destroyed, the cableway would remain operationa­l.

In the same area, part of the roof of Silver Orange restaurant was blown off, while the studios of a local radio station were flooded. Residents in the area posted images on social media of golfball-sized hail.

In Bedfordvie­w, Gillooly’s Function Centre and Café was set alight by a bolt of lightning. According to the SA Weather Service, severe thundersto­rms were expected yesterday evening, with rainfall expected every day over most of the central and eastern parts of the country for the next week.

Temperatur­es should be decidedly lower throughout the country for the remainder of the week.

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