The City of Ekurhuleni on Tuesday, established a Joint Operational Centre (JoC) to assist people affected when a tornado swept through parts of Tembisa, east of Johannesburg.
The tornado blew off the entire roof of the Phumlani Mall, outside buildings of the Tembisa Hospital and numerous households leaving hundreds displaced.
“Search and rescue operations at the mall have been completed and the City can confirm, after thorough searching, that there is no one trapped in the debris. The city’s Disaster and Emergency Services (DEMS) is continuing with assessments. So far three people have been taken to the hospital with minor injuries,” Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality spokesperson Themba Gadebe said.
“The thunderstorm blew up roofs of about 200 households in Winnie Mandela leaving an estimated 400 people displaced. Other areas damaged by the storm include 100 shacks and 20 houses in Hospital view. The City is providing salvage sheets as an interim measure to cover the roofs and to prevent further damages to the affected properties.”
Gadebe said victims of the thunderstorm may contact the JoC on 011-458-0911 who would be functional 24-hours until the situation has been normalised.
He said various Ekurhuleni teams were on the ground, including Eskom and the city’s energy department who were working on restoring power outage in area.
The nearest Rabasotho and Olifansfontein Community Halls were being provided by the city to accommodate displaced people while food parcels and blankets were distributed to provide further relief to the affected, he said.
The city would deploy social workers and mobile clinics to provide counselling and other health services, Gadebe said.
At least twenty people were Phumlani Mall when a tornado ripped through the East Rand township, collapsing the roof of the mall and causing extensive damage to the local hospital to which the injured were rushed.
Month-end shoppers at the mall stood dazed as search and rescue teams pulled people out of the rubble of damaged shops.
Earlier, health department spokesman Steve Mabona said some 20 people who suffered injury at the mall had been brought to the hospital, where the tornado destroyed the fence and carports and damaged about 20 vehicles belonging to employees, as well as three ambulances.
It collapsed the roof of part of the hospital and uprooted trees, he said, but patients were spared injury.
“Fortunately, no patient or employee sustained any injury as a result thereof,” Mabona said.
“The hospital is currently attending to people who were injured at the destroyed Phumlani Mall in Tembisa, about 20 people have been transferred to the hospital.”
Mabona said ambulances from neighbouring areas had been dispatched to assist.
Spokesperson for eKurhuleni metro police department, Wilfred Kgasago, said the tornado struck Tembisa at around 4 pm.
“At around 4pm this afternoon, a tornado hit Tembisa and damaged roofs at Phumlani Mall, Tembisa Hospital and at Total garage on RTJ Mamani Road,” Kgasago said.
“According to information at out disposal, two people were reported injured at the mall and our search and rescue teams are currently rummaging through the rubble searching for survivors.”
Kgasago said no casualties had been reported so far.
He added: “We have not got more information about the extent of damage caused at the Total garage but we got a report that the roof was also ripped off there.”
“The whirlwind has gone in the direction of Bronkhorstspruit and we will be trying to establish how many people are injured.”
The South African Weather Services warned that the country would suffer from stormy winter weather this week, with heavy rains and snowfalls forecast in KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape and Western Cape.
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