11 July 2024

Raging wildfires have killed seven people including a baby and a pregnant woman in a farming settlement along South Africa’s famed Garden Route, disaster management services said Monday.

Firefighters have been battling to quell the blazes that started last week along the southern tourist trail.

“So far we have confirmed that there are seven fatalities of which one is a woman who was eight months pregnant,” Colin Deiner, head of Western Cape provincial disaster management services.

He added that a baby was among the dead.

“They were trapped in Farleigh, it’s a small settlement in the mountains between George and Knysna,” he said. “That’s where we found the bodies today.”

Deiner said the fires have burnt around 16,600 hectares and had forced a precautionary evacuation of three suburbs, housing more than 1,500 people.

Local media reported that students from one campus of the Nelson Mandela University, situated on the foot of Outeniqua Mountains in the town of George were also evacuated.

At least 400 firefighters have been deployed to try and contain the blaze in raging in the area which is around 450 kilometres (280 miles) east of Cape Town.

“The strong winds are our biggest problem at the moment and lightning is also causing more problems,” said Deiner.