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South Africa – Two dead after high winds and wild seas wreak havoc on Eastern and Western Cape coasts

By  Suné Payne and Estelle Ellis

High waves, strong winds and the spring tide combined into a nightmare for coastal communities in the Western and Eastern Cape on Saturday and Sunday. Two people died, a famous rock formation was destroyed, hikers had to be evacuated from the Otter Trail and severe damage was inflicted on property, including some well-known seaside restaurants and infrastructure along the coastline.

Two people have died, and homeowners, businesses and municipalities along the Western and Eastern Cape coastlines were counting the costs on Sunday after damaging waves fuelled by a spring tide and very strong winds resulted in a perfect storm.

In Wilderness, Western Cape, a 93-year-old woman died after she was swept off her feet by a wave while she was watching the surf from a parking lot. The Kouga Municipality also confirmed that the body of an unknown man, estimated to be 68 years old, was found at Aston Bay near Jeffreys Bay in the Eastern Cape.

Pheelo Oliphant, spokesperson for the Eastern Cape’s Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), said there had been no reports of people being swept away by the rough sea, so at this stage they were not sure where the body had come from.

Southern Cape police spokesperson Sergeant Chris Spies said they had not opened any cases in relation to the woman in Wilderness being swept away. He referred queries to the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI).

What is a perfect storm?

On Friday, the South African Weather Service issued an alert for damaging winds that would continue into the weekend. According to the Eastern Cape Department of Local Government, alerts were issued for gale-force winds with speeds of 60-70km/h and significant high waves of 5-7 metres…


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