Gale-force winds cause havoc at the coast

Niël Terblanché

Several buildings situated in the central coastal towns of Namibia have been damaged by gale-force winds that have been blowing from a southerly direction since Monday morning.

In some cases, walls have been blown over while in other areas several roofs sustained severe damage by the wind that at some stage blew at a speed of 50 knots or 92 kilometres per hour.

People who live in a block of flats in the Tamariskia residential area of Swakopmund narrowly escaped death when the wind ripped the roof of the building.

Pieces of the roof structure collapsed into their home missing them by mere centimetres.

Besides causing damage the wind also caused poor visibility on the main roads between Swakopmund, Walvis Bay and Henties Bay.

The dust cloud over the desert was so dense that a flight from Airlink that was supposed to land at the Walvis Bay International Airport yesterday afternoon had to be diverted to the Hosea Kutako International Airport near Windhoek.

The aircraft circled above the main coastal airport for at least an hour before flying to Windhoek where passengers had to stay for the night before another attempt to land at Walvis Bay was made this morning.

At the same time, icy winds have been bombarding towns in the southern parts of Namibia. The cold wind was accompanied by rain and in some cases even snow.

Farmers have been warned to take all the necessary precautions to protect the livestock and crops against frost because the mercury dropped several degrees below freezing earlier this morning.

The stormy wind also caused damage to cargo transported by heavy trucks. In one case the tarpaulin covering was blown off the trailer of one truck transporting toilet paper into the hinterland. Streamers of paper were spread all over the desert just outside Swakopmund while the driver and his assistant attempted to save what they could of the consignment.

On Monday afternoon a tug of the Namibia Ports Authority was dispatched to retrieve a boat that broke loose from its mooring in the marine portion of the Walvis Bay harbour after gale force winds whipped the sea into a frenzy of large swells. The stormy sea conditions hampered the salvage operation, but in the end, the crew of the tug managed to retrieve the wayward vessel and tow it safely back to the shelter of the marina.

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