Eight killed, thousands displaced as storm lashes South Africa's Cape

Fires fanned by high winds swept through the scenic South African coastal town and Knysna in the Western Cape Province

Fires fanned by high winds swept through the scenic South African coastal town and Knysna in the Western Cape Province

"We have lost almost 250 structures in Knysna and evacuated between 7,000-8,000 people", Colin Deiner, chief director of the Disaster Management center, told reporters about the resort town of some 77,000.

The Western Cape Disaster Management centre said that the death toll of the Cape storm has risen to nine.

Western Cape local governance spokesperson James-Brent Styan told The Times that an evacuation of the town's 77 000 residents was under way, but it was unclear how many people had been evacuated.

The storm is expected to dump more than two inches (50 mm) of rain in some areas and trigger waves of up to 12 meters, the South African Weather Service said in warnings.

South Africa's property and casualty insurers face an even tougher year than expected after Cape Town experienced its worst storm in 30 years and dozens of fires engulfed the region around the town of Knysna this week.

"Also the rain, that's why I moved here with my child. We're scared to stay in my shack", she added from a shelter in Cape Town.

The company said its engineers were now on site in Cape Town to recharge backup batteries that power the affected sites.

President Jacob Zuma had cancelled a trip to Cape Town to open the World News Media Congress because it was not possible to fly there.

It's also been confirmed that late on Wednesday night the informal settlement in Knysna was ablaze.

While the storm provided some relief for a severe drought, officials said sustained rainfall over several years is needed in a city whose reservoirs are at low levels. The service provider company indicated it is aware that some of its customers in Cape Town and Eastern Cape are experiencing intermittent service disruptions due to power lines that were damaged by strong winds yesterday.

Snowfall has been recorded in Sutherland (NC), Matroosberg (WC) and other high-lying areas.

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