RSA – Fire, snow claims lives around the country

Fire, snow claims lives around the country

28 July 2007

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Fire and snow in different parts of South Africa have both claimed several lives. Seven people have died in a fire in the Dumbe area near Vryheid in northern KwaZulu-Natal. The area was engulfed by veld fires last night. Vincent Mdunge, a police spokesperson, says it is not yet known what started the fire.

In Mpumalanga, two Gauteng holidaymakers have burnt to death in a fire on a trout farm in Machadodorp. Brandon Watt, the Machadodorp spokesperson, says the fire also destroyed about 800 hectares and five vehicles.

Further east in the Mpumalanga lowveld, Val Charlton, the Working on Fire, spokesperson, says fires around Graskop and Sabie have destroyed two timber sawmills, and about 15 000 hectares of mainly timber plantations.

Fire fighters have also been dousing veld fires in the Greater Tzaneen area of Limpopo. Butch Baker, the Letaba fire protection association manager, says areas affected by fire include Modjadjiskloof, Makgoebaskloof and Haenertsburg. Baker advises people in the area to exercise extreme caution.

Heavy snow causes accident in Eastern Cape
Snow in other parts of the country has also claimed lives. Three people have been killed and 20 injured in a bus accident between Molteno and Steynsburg in the Eastern Cape.

Traffic police say the driver lost control due to heavy snow on the road, and the bus overturned. Many roads over mountain passes in the province have been closed due to heavy snow which fell last night. These include the Penhoek Pass between Jamestown and Queenstown, and the Barkly Pass between Barkly East and Elliot. The Lootsberg Pass road between Middleburg and Graaff-Reinet has now reopened. However, motorists are urged to drive with extreme care.

Meanwhile, the disaster management section in QwaQwa in the eastern Free State has reported damage and injuries caused by gale force winds.

Mohau Bodibe, the disaster management spokesperson, says about 20 people have been admitted to hospital after the roofs of their homes were blown off. Bodibe says a meeting will be held between health services, disaster management and the fire brigade to assess the situation.

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