South Africa dusted by rare snow storm

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - A rare winter snowstorm dusted South Africa’s commercial capital Johannesburg early on Wednesday as a winter weather front moved across the country, closing mountain passes and claiming at least one life.

“SNOWBURG” trumpeted the headline of Johannesburg’s Star newspaper.

Gleeful children built snowmen in Johannesburg’s Zoo Lake Park, while families could be seen carrying snowballs back to their cars, fast melting souvenirs of the city’s first significant snowfall since 1981.

Johannesburg Emergency Services spokesman Malcolm Midgely said a homeless man had been found dead of exposure in the city centre after what he said was the first real snowfall in more than a generation.

“There’ve been a few minor incidents since (1981), in 1996 we had a little bit of sleet, but it was none of the big, thick stuff,” Midgely told the SAPA news agency.

Flights departing from Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport were delayed by up to three hours as aircraft were de-iced, a rare operation for a country which usually trades in tourist promises of sunshine and beaches.