At least nine people have been killed and thousands forced from their homes as Cape Town and surrounding areas were hit by the worst winter storm in 30 years. Millions of people living in shanty towns, who have previously had to cope with the region's worst drought in a century, have been hardest hit, with floods and heavy rain washing away homes built of planks and corrugated zinc sheets.

Victims included four people who died in a fire caused by lightning, three who died in another fire and one who was killed when a home collapsed. The storm is expected to dump more than two inches (50mm) of rain in some areas and trigger waves of up to 12 metres, the South African Weather Service said.

South Africa storms
A man takes a picture of lashings of sea foam as storms hit Cape TownMike Hutchings/Reuters
South Africa storms
Huge waves break over a sea wall at Cape Town harbourRodger Bosch/AFP
South Africa storms
A man repairs his home after it was damaged by storms in Cape TownMike Hutchings/Reuters
South Africa storms
A woman and a child wearing makeshift raincoats run across a road, in the informal settlement of Langa, near Cape TownRodger Bosch/AFP
South Africa storms
A man inspects a shop window that was blown in as storms hit Cape TownMike Hutchings/Reuters
South Africa storms
People run as waves of foam and seawater crash into Three Anchor Bay in Cape TownRodger Bosch/AFP
South Africa storms
South Africa storms
Fires rage at Buffelsvermaak farm near Knysna, South AfricaSimone Terblanche/Reuters

Strong winds are fanning multiple fires, which destroyed dozens of homes and also damaged an evacuated hospital and a school.

Officials say about 10,000 people were evacuated from a scenic coastal town that has been devastated by fast-moving fires.

Over two dozen fires were reported in the area, which are home to dense forests, providing plenty of fuel for the spread of wild fires.

Local media reported that the military plans to help emergency responders in Knysna, which lies on the Garden Route, a popular tourist destination on the southern coast. The town's mayor, Eleanore Bouw-Spies, said the fires were the worst in the region in decades.