CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) _ Gale-force winds ripped roofs off homes and collapsed walls Sunday, killing at least three people and injuring hundreds in a Cape Town neighborhood.

Rescue workers waded through the debris and tried to find victims, while stunned survivors walked through the devastated area in the Cape Flats, a low-income neighborhood of Cape Town.

``It's chaotic. People are trying to gather what they can of their belongings,'' said police spokesman Captain Neville Malila. Police and city officials said at least three people were killed in the wind storm.

Soldiers patrolled the streets to prevent looting. One family dragged furniture from a heavily damaged building.

The storm, which hit early Sunday and was accompanied by thunder and lightning, may have been a tornado. It plowed through a concentrated area of homes, tearing roofs off buildings and flipping cars over.

``I just saw a light and (heard) a terrible shaking sound. The glass began to break. It happened so quickly. I just rushed for the children,'' said Basil Searle, whose family escaped injury.

City spokeswoman Lenora de Souza said hundreds of people were injured and thousands left homeless by the storm.

Two of the victims were women who died in separate buildings when the storm collapsed their roofs and knocked brick walls down on them, said police Capt. Jacques Wiese.