Disaster management teams have commenced with mop-up operations following the severe storms that struck the province last night and left large-scale destruction in their wake. The provincial Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), under the leadership of MEC Sipho Hlomuka, has received reports of incidents that are currently being responded to by the teams.

Yesterday the department issued a warning in which it referred to reports from the South African Weather Service that inclement weather conditions could strike large parts of the province. The weather forecast indicated the possibility of hail, severe thunderstorms, strong winds and heavy rains.

The department can now confirm that in the late afternoon yesterday a hail storm hit parts of Msunduzi and the Midlands where several houses were damaged. The storm also caused blackouts in a number of suburbs and technicians from the municipality are now working on the ground to restore the grid.

In Umlazi F Section, a woman is missing and is believed to have been swept away when crossing the local river. She was apparently part of a group of three people who were crossing the Umlazi River when they lost their footing and were overcome by the gushing water. Two of them were able to make their way to safety while the woman still remains unaccounted for.

In Umuziwabantu municipality (Ward 9, Bhudlu area), a 10-year-old was rushed to hospital after he was struck by lightning. In a separate incident, strong winds and heavy rains damaged several households in the area. Disaster management teams are still assessing the extent of the damages and an update will be issued to the media soon.

Hlomuka has appealed to residents to continue to be vigilant as inclement weather conditions continue to pose a risk to communities in the province. The latest warning from the South African Weather Service indicates that severe thunderstorms are expected to hit the Abaqulusi, Danhausser, eDumbe, eMadlangeni, eNdumeni, Newcastle, Nongoma, Nquthu, uLundi and uPhongolo this afternoon going into the evening. This inclement weather is expected to cause localised flooding, hail, and lightning strikes. Residents in areas that could be affected are urged to exercise caution.