15 dead in tank truck explosion

The death toll from the explosion of a gas tanker near Johannesburg on Saturday has risen to 15, the South African Minister of Health announced on Sunday morning, against 10 the previous evening.

“Yesterday the death toll was 10 people, this morning we are at 15,” said Joe Phaahla during a press briefing at Tambo Memorial Hospital located close to the site of the explosion, where many people were also injured.

Very early Saturday, on Christmas Eve, the truck got stuck under a bridge in this residential area of ​​Boksburg, about forty kilometers east of Johannesburg.

“We received a call around 7:50 a.m. Firefighters left to put out a blaze. Unfortunately, the truck then exploded,” William Ntladi, spokesman for the emergency services in this area, told AFP.

Amateur videos circulating on social media show a huge fireball exploding below the bridge. Disaster film footage.

The tank truck was probably too high to pass through this place. It was filled with 60,000 liters of LPG gas, used for cooking, according to the spokesperson. The driver is among the injured.

Among the dead, three hospital employees, a driver and two nurses succumbed to their burns, said the minister on Sunday, who conveyed his “deep condolences” to the families on Christmas morning.

Emergencies struck

In all, 37 people who were in the emergency department of Tambo Memorial Hospital at the time of the explosion “sustained serious burns”, he said. Among them, 24 were patients, the other 13 nursing staff.

Others were hit by shards of glass thrown by the blast, he added, while others were injured while in the parking lot or in front of the entrance to the building. hospital, hit in particular by projected waste, sometimes on fire.

Inside, the emergency department and the radio area were badly damaged. “The roof is affected, ceilings have fallen, broken windows and damaged equipment,” reviewed the Minister of Health. On the ground, pieces of glass and traces of blood.

Jean Marie Booysen said on Saturday that he heard an explosion in the early morning, shortly after 6:30 a.m., the start of this day “very sad for our small suburb”.

“There was a huge tremor. I grew up here so immediately I said to myself + This is not related to the mining activity +. It’s more like 6.5 on the Richter scale, ”explained this blonde sexagenarian to AFP, while the scientific police were still combing the scene of the disaster.

“I went upstairs and saw huge flames. I thought a house was burning,” she added.

Then the bad news followed. “On the other side of the road, there are two kids, a 16-year-old teenager and a 25-year-old young man who came to mow my lawn” every weekend. “They are no longer there, they are both dead”.

William, who did not wish to give his last name, was a few hundred meters from the explosion. “Several of us have burns on our backs, stones”, especially from a station near the explosion, flew, covering the roadway with debris.

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