South Africa: Elderly Woman Dies in Cape Storm Surges

A 93-year-old woman died after she was swept off her feet by waves that crashed into the car park at Wilderness on the Garden Route on Saturday afternoon.

National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) spokesperson Craig Lambinon confirmed on Sunday that the elderly victim and another person were injured when water surged through the parking lot; both were taken to hospital by emergency services.

Lambinon told SABC News on Sunday that George Municipality closed all local beaches on Saturday 16 September, when high waves battered coastal hamlets such as Victoria Bay and Herolds Bay.

Beaches in Plettenberg Bay, Knysna, Still Bay and Mossel Bay were also affected, with several coastal areas between Cape Town and Gqeberha in the Eastern Cape reporting extensive damage to property.

The South African Weather Services had by Friday issued a Yellow Level 4 warning regarding gale force winds (60-70km/h) and significant wave heights of 5-7 metres.

A confluence of circumstances, including the cold front that engulfed large parts of the Cape and storm surges related to Spring high tide, exacerbated the havoc caused to property and infrastructure, sweeping away cars and flooding homes and businesses.

In Gqeberha, emergency services attended Mangolds Pool Resort on Saturday afternoon, where the Spring high tide threatened several caravans and structures.

“One dog, one bird, two ladies, two children, and two males were evacuated out of their caravans and taken to the gatehouse,” said Lambinon.

On Saturday, scores of videos and pictures flooded social media, showing massive waves lifting stationary vehicles in Gordon’s Bay and Three Anchor Bay in Cape Town.

Diners at the city’s famous Brass Bell in Kalk Bay were shocked when a massive wave crashed through the restaurant’s window, soaking several customers. The eatery was closed for mop-up operations and no serious injuries reported.

Restaurateurs at Storms River National Park in the Tsitsikamma, Eastern Cape, were not as fortunate, since the entire structure was obliterated by relentless wave action.

Cape Town Disaster Risk Management Centre said on Sunday that its solid waste began with clean-up operations along the beach, while traffic services and law enforcement were assisting with road closures.

In George, mop-up operations were placed on hold until Monday to ensure that the worst of the surges had subsided. Call the NSRI on 0870949774 to report emergencies along the coast.


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