Lightning kills 3 members of same family

STRANDED: Williams Road in Durban was flooded yesterday following heavy rainstorms that hit the province, causing major delays in traffic. Pic: THULI DLAMINI. 17/02/2010. © Sowetan.
STRANDED: Williams Road in Durban was flooded yesterday following heavy rainstorms that hit the province, causing major delays in traffic. Pic: THULI DLAMINI. 17/02/2010. © Sowetan.

THREE members of the Mkhize family were killed and four others rushed to hospital after they were struck by lightning during heavy storms that wreaked havoc in the province on Tuesday night and yesterday morning.

THREE members of the Mkhize family were killed and four others rushed to hospital after they were struck by lightning during heavy storms that wreaked havoc in the province on Tuesday night and yesterday morning.

Torrential rains, accompanied by hail, wind, thunder and lightning left hundreds of people in the province devastated.

Homes were flooded, shacks destroyed, trees uprooted and water-damaged cars lined the flooded streets.

Jabulile Mkhize, 50, her daughter Buyisiwe, 19, and grandson Mpilwenhle Mkhize, 2, were killed when they were struck by lightning on Tuesday night in Mid-Illovo, outside Durban.

Jabulile's husband, Mzonzima Mkhize, 54, said they were all in one hut when tragedy struck.

"There were seven of us in the hut. I was asleep when I heard this big bang and I woke up to find my wife already dead.

"I shook my daughter and she too was dead, together with my grandson. Moments later the house caught alight and we ran for our dear lives," Mkhize said.

At Newlands West in the Emgodini area more than 30 houses were flooded.

Sowetan visited the Sithole family, whose house was in a mess.

Nhlanhla Sithole, 48, said the rainstorm had lasted only minutes but caused extensive damage.

The television set, a fridge and other household goods were all floating in water.

"I thank God that no one was injured or killed," Sithole said. "The river bank collapsed water gushed into our house.

"The foundation cracked and everything from the bed to sofas, kitchen utensils and wardrobes were all flooded.

"I don't know where to start to sort this mess out."

Mopping-up operations were under way in shopping centres and in many parts of the province yesterday.

The storm passed through Hillcrest, Pinetown and Durban - the three worst-hit areas - before heading out to the coastline.

In the storm's aftermath tow trucks had to rescue several vehicles stuck on flooded roads.

Paramedics reported several minor accidents caused by poor visibility resulting from the storm.

ER24 spokesperson Derrick Banks said paramedics had seen several uprooted trees and two submerged cars while responding to accidents in Pinetown.

Three cars were partly submerged in Che Guevara (Moore) Road after sand, which was used to cover construction trenches, was washed away, leaving gaping holes in the road.

The eThekwini emergency services unit responded to several cases of flooding in the city, Cato Manor and Sea Cow Lake, where the most affected areas were informal settlements.

Meanwhile, Sapa quoted Metrorail as saying that train commuters in KwaMashu outside Durban, Stanger and various KwaZulu-Natal north coast areas were left stranded yesterday morning after trains were delayed following a storm on Tuesday night.

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