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Cape Town coastal resort fire kills five people, including two children

09 June 2017

Three people died in fires at Rheenendal, a village outside Knysna, while the body of a three-year-old was found in the town's Welbedacht area.

"Eight people have died so far in storm-related incidents and thousands have been displaced", said James-Brent Styan, spokesman for the Western Cape local government ministry.

"We are working with emergency services in the area to ensure that we do everything we can to assist in this time of need", he adds.

He said details of the deaths were unclear but all available staff had been deployed to deal with the fires‚ including staff that had been on rest breaks. The N2 between the two coastal holiday towns were closed due to low visibility.

Firefighters are now battling 26 active fires, made worse by a "storm front" that has flooded nearby Cape Town but fanned the flames around the well-heeled seaside town of Knysna and the neighboring Plettenberg Bay.

The severe weather, dubbed "the cape storm" and thought to be one of the worst for 30 years, has left dozens of people in shantytowns around Cape Town homeless - as well as forcing schools and universities to close.

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Knysna municipal spokesperson Fran Kirsten said residents had also been evacuated from Belvedere‚ Brenton-on-Sea and Karatara outside Knysna‚ among other areas.

Clinton Manuel, Knysna's fire chief, said his teams were struggling to contain numerous fires.

Firefighters battling the rampant and vicious fires that broke out in Knysna are considering water bombing areas, as they are still not under control, and could begin to spread again.

Staff ReporterThe Knysna Fire has ravaged vast distances and caused massive displacement.

Meanwhile along the coast in Cape Town, local authorities are fighting devastating floods caused by the same storm that whipped up the flames along the coast.

Residents had difficulty reaching the fire station for assistance.