There was an underground explosion in the center of Johannesburg, most likely a gas explosion. 41 people were injured. The incident took place near the parking lot of minibuses that transported residents from work to home.
Two people are in a critical condition, nine were seriously injured and 30 suffered minor injuries in Wednesday’s rush hour blast around 5 p.m., BNN Network reported.
Many people flocked to Bree Street to catch a minibus to go home from work. Witnesses said that at the time of the explosion, some people were already in minibuses and were blown up together with the vehicles. Following the explosion, an evacuation was ordered for fear of the possibility of a second blast or collapse of nearby buildings.
The South African News24 portal, reporting on the event, wrote about more than twenty “flying in the air” cars.
“Buildings can collapse. The damage is extensive,” said Panyaza Lesufi, premier of Gauteng province, where Johannesburg, the largest city, is located South Africa.
It was estimated that the damage covered the area of five multi-story buildings. Huge cracks and potholes appeared in the middle of the streets, some so large that some cars fell into them, the Associated Press reported. Roads have been closed and an investigation into the explosion is ongoing.
Lesufi said that while there was most likely a gas explosion, it was not clear at this time whether there was a rupture in the city’s pipes or some other unspecified source. Eoli Gas, Johannesburg’s gas supplier, said it was unlikely the explosion was caused by a leak in one of the pipes it installed. It was emphasized that no leaks were found after the inspection.
Earlier in July toxic nitrogen gas leak led to the deaths of 17 people, including three children, on the outskirts of Johannesburg. It happened as a result of illegal gold processing activities in the area, according to the authorities.
Main photo source: PAP/EPA/KIM LUDBROOK