Two paragliders were slightly injured after their parachute broke loose from a speedboat as a freak storm swept through Malta.
Shocked beachgoers watched on helplessly as they watched the drama unfold and screamed in horror when the cord attaching the parachute to the boat snapped under huge strain.
On seeing the 20-year-old man and a 16-year-old woman in trouble, bathers rushed into the sea in an attempt to hold the speedboat which had been pushed perilously close to the beach by the fierce storm.
However, the could do little except watch the two people suspended with their legs and arms flailing. Then the cord snapped and the parachute flew into a nearby field before landing in the bushes and dragged against a wall of a boathouse.
The water spout had been seen coming from a southeasterly direction at around noon. It whipped up dust from Rinella before proceeding north across Malta.
A spokesman for Met Office said it was expecting to see the tail-end of the storm, possibly with showers, but it became much worse after finding a warm patch of sea. Heavy showers, thunder, strong winds and water spouts then ensued.
“Around the Santa Marija feast this is not totally unexpected because high pressure from the Atlantic starts collapsing and low pressure starts moving closer,” the spokesman said.
A Hamrun feast enthusiast said the storm caused damage to some feast decorations recalling a similar storm had taken place in the late 1940s.
Meanwhile St Gatean Band Club said in a statement that the feast would go ahead as planned.
The Met Office had forecast possible showers for Monday and Tuesday. Nevertheless, the heat persists, with average temperatures of 34˚C forecast for the coming days. July was hotter than usual with an average temperature of 28.1˚C as opposed to the climate norm of 26.6˚C.
It said today that heavy thunderstorms will continue with moderate to heavy rainfall in some parts of the island.
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