10000 evacuated, 3 dead as fires engulf South African town

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"Now we are trying to make all areas safe and the fire is not under control", Manuel said.

Nine people died during the storm and as a result of fires in Knysna, which were fanned by the winds that ravished most of Cape Town on Wednesday.

High winds from a storm that claimed eight lives as it battered the Western Cape region have caused the blaze to spread rapidly.

Western Cape local government spokesman James-Brent Styan confirmed in a statement that up to 10,000 evacuations had taken place in the town of 77,000 residents. Santam, which on May 31 said underwriting results are under pressure, dropped as much as 2.9percent to its lowest level on a closing basis in nearly four months.

Many people in Knysna have had no cellphone connection, and have needed to use WiFi, including the media teams down there.

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A large number of police officers were seen gearing up with helmets and riot gear, believed to be on the hunt for suspects. The force tweeted a warning telling people in the area to run to safety, hide and then call police if it is safe to do so.

According to the newspaper, people in the Whale Rock and Longships areas, near Robberg, were being evacuated. Many had already been displaced in March when their homes burned down due to a period of prolonged drought.

"Also the rain, that's why I moved here with my child, ".

The City of Cape Town has launched a donation campaign for those in need of help.

The South African Weather Service warned that strong gale force winds were expected over the Western Cape and western parts of the Northern Cape region until Thursday. The airport was closed, grounding even the South African President Jacob Zuma who had to cancel an engagement in Durban. Some 2000 people across the city are receiving humanitarian relief.

The BBC reports from Cape Town that before the storm, there had been several interfaith meetings to pray for rain. On Wednesday, authorities urged residents to capture rain from the storm in containers for flushing toilets and other needs.

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