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Cape Town's Floods Kill 8 in Electrocution Incidents

Aftermath of widespread flooding in Western Cape
Aftermath of widespread flooding in Western Cape

CAPE TOWN — Eight people, including four children, were killed by electrocution in two separate events after days of heavy rain caused floods in impoverished informal settlements near the South African city of Cape Town, the city's emergency services said on Tuesday.

The Cape Town Disaster Risk Management Center said Tuesday that four people died in the Driftsands settlement on the eastern outskirts, as the floods caused problems with electricity connections. Additionally, four children were electrocuted and died in the Klipfontein settlement.

Many homes in the poor townships on the outskirts of South Africa's second-biggest city have makeshift electricity connections, with people hooking their houses or shacks up to existing power lines themselves.

A storm front battered the Cape Town area and the Western Cape province for three days, causing rivers to burst their banks and flood residential areas and major roads, both in coastal regions and inland. Hundreds have been evacuated.

Large waves crash against the Kalk Bay harbour wall during severe weather in Cape Town
Large waves crash against the Kalk Bay harbour wall during severe weather in Cape Town

Outages caused by the weather left more than 80,000 customers across the province without electricity, the national power utility said. That had been reduced to 15,000 by Tuesday as the rain eased.

Local officials said three people died after they were swept away by flood waters in the mainly agricultural region of Overberg, just over 100 kilometers (60 miles) east of Cape Town. The area is one of South Africa's most important wheat-farming regions, and there were fears of major damage to crops and infrastructure from the flooding.

Storms caused by cold fronts are common in the Cape Town region and Western Cape province. A cold front in June caused around $50 million of damage to the agriculture sector in the Western Cape, according to the provincial government.