1 killed, 48 hurt as suspected gas explosion rips open roads in Johannesburg, SA

Web Desk

Emergency services reported Thursday that one person has been killed while 48 others were left injured after a suspected underground gas explosion gouged out cracks in roads in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Emergency Management Services spokesman Robert Mulaudzi, said: "(In the) early hours of this morning, we managed to recover a body of a male person on site where the explosion occurred."

While the cause of the explosion in South Africa's biggest city remains unclear, the company that supplies gas to the region said that it did not believe its underground pipelines were the reason for the accident as it was initially believed to be caused by authorities.

People present at the scene at the time of the explosion reported that they could smell chemical odours and observed fumes escaping after the explosion.

Meanwhile, the body of the deceased was recovered while rescuers searched the area through the night found during a nighttime search of the affected area, according to Johannesburg’s Emergency Management Services spokesperson Robert Mulaudzi's tweet.

City authorities are investigating underground pipes and cables for potential explosion or gas leak threats, involving specialists.

“We are still searching for the source,” said Panyaza Lesufi, the premier of the South African province of Gauteng, where Johannesburg is located.

According to Lesufi, 12 people remained in several Johannesburg hospitals for medical treatment while the other 36 injured had been discharged.

People evacuated from a downtown area on Wednesday night due to fears of a second explosion or collapse of multi-storey buildings as the existing damage was extensive. People returned to the area on Thursday morning to return to homes or work.

A five-city block area and six roads were damaged, including 34 vehicles some of which were flipped or towed, while others tumbled into gaping crevices.

Most were minibus taxis, a popular commuting method in South Africa. Witnesses reported some people were sitting in the minibuses when the explosion threw them into the air.

A witness told local television station eNCA, saying: "I was in my car when I heard a big sound. The next thing, I was in the air and my car was overturning." He said he was shaken but unhurt, Al-Jazeera reported.

After the explosion, emergency crews searched through mangled vehicles and buildings, discovering the deceased and increasing the number of injured from nine to 13.