At least one person died and several others were injured as what was described by eyewitnesses as a “tornado” swept through Gauteng, South Africa late on Monday afternoon.
The storm ripped off the roofs of a primary school, a shopping mall, and many houses on Johannesburg’s West Rand. A lot of water fell in a short time, leaving many cars stranded, and Jukskei Park overflowing. The massive hailstorm fell in golf-ball sizes as powerful winds uprooted trees and wreaked havoc.
At the same time, the Yaldwyn power station in Jet Park near the OR Tambo Airport in Boksburg was on fire, causing massive power outages on the East Rand. It was not immediately clear what had sparked the blaze but it had plunged parts of Ekurhuleni into darkness, stretching from Kempton Park, through to Atlasville, Plantation and Witfield. All power has been switched off for safety reasons, and the fire department are busy extinguishing the blaze.
Another 150 homes were said to have been damaged in Putfontein and Etwatwa near Daveyton. Others houses including a block of flats in Honeydew were destroyed, with pictures from the complex showing roof tiles blown off, collapsed carports and an overturned car.
Weather SA forecaster Madimetja Thema said the reports of tornadoes were unconfirmed.
“Only once we have assessed all the information at hand will we be able to confirm that this was a tornado for now we refer to it as a storm.”
Paramedics said two people were injured when a severe hailstorm caused part of the roof of the Cradlestone Mall near Krugersdorp on the West Rand to collapse on Monday afternoon.
ER24 spokesman Russel Meiring said: “ER24 paramedics‚ along with Life Healthcare and other services‚ arrived on the scene where they found that some of the external structure of the mall had collapsed. Once inside the shops‚ paramedics found that some of the ceiling had collapsed on the patrons.”
South Africans took to Twitter to share photos and updates on the storm.
See tweets and more photos below.