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Heavy snow causes travel chaos in South Africa

posted 26 Jul 2011, 09:34 by Mpelembe   [ updated 26 Jul 2011, 10:08 ]

Rare winter snow storms wreak havoc on Durban's transport system, halting trains and stranding thousands of motorists after highways closed.

DURBAN; SOUTH AFRICA (JULY 26,2011) SABC -   An unusually heavy snowfall that blanketed large parts of South Africa snarled up transport on Tuesday (July 26), halting trains and leaving thousands of motorists stranded after highways closed.

Sizwe Ndlovu, a truck driver stranded on a Durban road said that motorists did not receive any updates after being stuck in traffic for several hours.

"This is a huge inconvenience because we don't know what's happening, we haven't received any updates as to how much longer we will be stuck here. What makes it worse is that we have no food, nothing to do, we just have to sit it out," said Ndlovu.

The storm also brought high winds that played havoc with shipping and delayed air transport. The military dispatched a helicopter to pluck crew members from a cargo ship that ran aground off the east coast.

Parts of South Africa usually receive a dusting of snow once or twice a year but the storm that hit large parts of the eastern half of the country on Monday and Tuesday dumped up to 60 cms (2 feet) in some areas.

Transport authorities shut sections of major highways, including a heavily travelled route between Johannesburg and the main east coast city of Durban.

The N3 highway between Johannesburg and KwaZulu-Natal has been closed from the Wilge toll plaza near Villiers to the Tugela toll plaza at Ladsymith.

More snow was expected to fall in many parts of the country on Wednesday.