Disaster management teams throughout KwaZulu-Natal have been mobilised after severe storms battered the Pietermaritzburg Midlands on Wednesday.

Images were distributed via social media of hail the size of tennis balls.

Senzo Mzila, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs spokesperson said on Thursday that “severe storms struck the province last night and left large-scale destruction in their wake”.

He said disaster management teams were responding to various reports.

“Yesterday (Wednesday), the department issued a warning in which it referred to reports from the South African Weather Service that inclement weather conditions could strike large parts of the province. The weather forecast indicated the possibility of hail, severe thunderstorms, strong winds and heavy rains.

“The department can now confirm that in the late afternoon yesterday, a hail storm hit parts of Msunduzi and the Midlands where several houses were damaged. The storm also caused blackouts in a number of suburbs and technicians from the municipality are now working on the ground to restore the grid.”

Mzila said that in Umlazi F Section in Durban, a woman was missing and was believed to have been swept away when she crossed a local river.

“She was apparently part of a group of three people who were crossing the Umlazi River when they lost their footing and were overcome by the gushing water. Two of them were able to make their way to safety while the woman still remains unaccounted for.”

He said that in uMuziwabantu municipality in the Bhudlu area, a 10-year-old boy was rushed to hospital after he was struck by lightning.

“In a separate incident, strong winds and heavy rains damaged several households in the area. Disaster management teams are still assessing the extent of the damages and an update will be issued to the media soon.”

He said Cogta MEC Sipho Hlomuka appealed to residents to continue to be vigilant as inclement weather conditions continued to pose a risk to communities in the province.

He said the latest warning from the South African Weather Service indicated that severe thunderstorms were expected to hit Abaqulusi, Dannhauser, eDumbe, eMadlangeni, eNdumeni, Newcastle, Nongoma, Nquthu, uLundi and uPhongolo on Thursday afternoon, going into the evening.

“This inclement weather is expected to cause localised flooding, hail, and lightning strikes. Residents in areas that could be affected are urged to exercise caution.”