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Deadly ‘supercell’ storm scatters ships in South Africa

Moored ships were blown away as a “supercell thunderstorm” swept through South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal region, killing at least eight people.

The dead include a child swept away by rising waters and two patients killed when a wall collapsed at the Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital, near Durban, the region’s main city.

People standing on a central reservation look at submerged vehicles on a flooded road during stormy weather in Durban, South Africa, 10 October 2017

KwaZulu-Natal and other parts of the country were hit by a “supercell thunderstorm”, the South African Weather Service said.

Such storms are characterised by a persistently rotating updraft like a tornado.

People wade through flood water in strong winds and rain next to submerged vehicles on a road during stormy weather in Durban, South Africa , 10 October 2017

“Satellite pictures show lightning over the sea and it seems to be moving off the coastline,” Weather Service spokesman Hannelee Doubell was quoted by South Africa’s TimesLive news site as saying.

The storm forced the closure of the Port of Durban, one of the busiest in Africa, on Tuesday.

Three vessels were grounded while others broke mooring lines and drifted in the channel, the port authority said in a statement.

Traffic jams caused by fallen trees during a storm in Durban, South Africa October 10, 2017

Emergency rescue worker Paul Herbst said a little girl had been washed away by floodwaters in Umlazi, a residential area south of Durban.

“A creche lying close to a nearby river flooded,” he said.

“The teacher from the creche managed to grab three of the children. Unfortunately a fourth child got swept down to the river in the floods.”

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