In a scene reminiscent to that of the Tsumani that struck Asia in 2011, residents of Gangankhulu Village near Ndzevane in the Lubombo region, stared death in the face when their houses collapsed, seriously injuring many while others were literally swept away by floods during Thursday’s heavy storm
The storm that struck most parts in the Shiselweni and Lubombo region, has been described as the worst since 1985 according to residents within the village.
Gangankhulu is situated about five kilometres from Mbutfu Army Barracks along the Lavumisa- Big Bend public road.
More than 30 families have been left homeless while more than 20 including men, women and children were seriously injured and had to be rushed to the nearby Ndzevane Clinic after the houses they were in collapsed.
The atmosphere within this village, tells it all as one was welcomed by corrugated iron sheets that were scattered all over the village with the whole area still muddy due to the floods that turned the village into a slum.
In an interview some of the residents who survived the storm, they still could not believe that they are still alive as they had expected the worst in the 30 minutes storm.
According to Mbuso Mgometulu who was crushed by his house after it collapsed as a result of the storm, it all started at around 6:30pm when the storm struck.
Mngometulu said within 30 minutes, the village had been turned into a ghost as almost everyone was homeless while others were swept away by the heavy floods.
“It all seemed like a movie as we normally see these things in other countries not here. the storm was so severe that nothing was left of us as you can see, nothing.“
Mngometulu who was injured in his arms said.
He said theirs was a story that they would tell for the rest of their lives as immediately after their houses collapsed, they had no where to hide and the hail stones that were as big as the size of a human head, hit them hard such that many had to be rushed to the nearby health facility.
said immediately after the collapse of his house while he was inside, he managed to crawl to safety after the rubble had fell on him, but was shocked when he was blown two metres high and thrown about 100 metres away from the rubble as he was saved by a marula tree that prevented him from being flown further.
He then dropped on the ground and upon realising that he would be flown further should he stand on his feet, decided to crawl to another house within the family compound.
Just when he was about to reach the other house, its roof was blown off and the nearest point of safety was the family gravesite, which he later crawled to for safety.
Furniture, electrical appliances and other household items were swept away by the floods that had already covered the whole village while other residents were literally swept away only to be blocked by fence that is erected along a nearby farm.
After the 30 minutes of havoc, the residents then picked themselves up and started looking for their children, and relatives as more than 30 homesteads had their roofs blown off while others collapsed.
What further crippled the residents is that there was communication break down after the storm as they could not call medical assistance, the police or who so ever could help them since their cell phones were damaged during the storm.
“It only took one of the resident whose house was spared from the storm to make a call to the police and the Emergency 977 paramedics line.
The injured were eventually rushed to the Ndzevane Clinic while those seriously injured were referred to the Good Shepherd hospital for further treatment.
Deputy Prime Minister sends SOS for storm victims
The Deputy Prime Minister Paul Dlamini yesterday pleaded with the country to come to government’s rescue by throwing in support to the many families and schools that were affected by Thursday night’s devastating hailstorm.
The hailstorm left a trail of destruction in the Shiselweni and Lubombo regions, whilst the Manzini region was at the periphery of the storm.
Dlamini had only appointed the new National Disaster Task Force board on Wednesday and tasked it to recruit a Chief Executive Officer to ensure it becomes a fully fledged parastatal.
Poppy Khoza is the chairman of the board.
“As government we have already moved swiftly to assist some of the affected families with some tents, whilst at the same time doing the actual assessment of the damage.
We are still running around assessing the damage, but from the reports and calls we have received today it is clear that the storm was massive and affected many people and schools.
“We are told that some schools were severely hit by the storm to the extent that exams are in danger of being affected. We are appealing for support from companies and individuals to help us fix those schools as quickly as we can so that exams can continue undisturbed,” he said.
Dlamini said their prayers were for rains and had not expected hailstorm.
“We would like to comfort the many families that are affected and appeal for support from our friends.
Government can only deal and quickly restore normality if we can also get support from companies and our friends,” he said.
Meanwhile, Shiselweni RA Themba Masuku concurred with Dlamini in that the region was severely affected by the storm. “We are also still doing some assessment but from what we have seen and experienced personally, the destruction has been severe.
Some of us had already started ploughing, owing to last weeks’ light rains, but the fields have been sealed by the heavy hailstorm. It now means that we have to start afresh.
Many farmers who had some vegetables fields, were left in ruins, something that would push the prices of these goods high.
“We appreciate government’s immediate response and hope more partners would come in to lend a hand,” Masuku said.