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Sunday, August 29, 1999 Published at 13:53 GMT 14:53 UK

World: Africa

Cape Town tornado kills three

Hundreds are feared to have been left homeless

At least three people have been killed in a freak storm which wrecked buildings in a suburb of Cape Town.

Geraldine Farley reports on the aftermath of the storm
South African police said about 220 others are thought to have been injured by falling debris after buildings collapsed in the impoverished suburb of Manenberg.

Spokesman Captain Jacques Wiese said two women had died when their homes collapsed on top of them.

[ image: Rescuers remove a body from the rubble]
Rescuers remove a body from the rubble
He said the storm had hit the area early on Sunday, damaging four blocks of flats and "totally gutting" 40 flats.

Cape Town City Council spokeswoman Leonora da Souza-Zilwa said there had been unconfirmed reports that several more people had died, with some sources putting the death toll at seven.

Concentrated damage

The damage was contained within an area measuring about 1km by 2km (1,000 yards by one mile).

[ image: The storm caused severe damaged in a concentrated area]
The storm caused severe damaged in a concentrated area
Cape Town's Chief Executive Andrew Boraine said the storm was being regarded as a tornado since it had caused severe damage in a concentrated area.

Witnesses said the storm was accompanied by thunder and lightning.

As residents try to gather their belongings and seek shelter with friends or relatives, there are reports of looting in an area which is notorious for criminal activity.

Soldiers are patrolling the streets to try to prevent further thefts.

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