Fuel tanker explosion kills 10 in South Africa

Lorry loaded with gas ignites while trying to pass through a low underpass in the city of Boksburg

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Ten people died and about 40 others were injured when a fuel tanker exploded in Boksburg, a South African city east of Johannesburg, on Saturday.

The top of the lorry scraped a low-lying bridge, sparking flames that caused the explosion, emergency services officials said.

The tanker was reportedly delivering liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) to the nearby OR Tambo Memorial Hospital, where some of the injured were treated. Patients in some units at the hospital had to be evacuated because of the explosion and fire, local media reported.

“We received a call at 07.50 telling us a gas tanker was stuck under a bridge. Firefighters were called to extinguish the flames. Unfortunately, the tanker exploded,” said William Ntladi, spokesman for the emergency services in the region.

Mr Ntladi said the death toll had risen to 10 from the nine reported earlier.

The driver survived the blast and was taken to hospital, he said.

Of those injured, around half were in a serious condition while 15 others were seriously hurt but stable.

Six firefighters also suffered minor injuries, Mr Ntladi said.

Video footage shared by residents on social media showed the dramatic explosion, with pedestrians running from the blaze and cars speeding away. Several houses and vehicles were damaged by the explosion, local reports said.

Witness Jean Marie Booysen described experiencing a “huge jolt” shortly after 6.30am.

“I went upstairs to have my cup of tea and I saw immense flames, I thought a house was on fire,” she said, standing near a forensics team at the scene.

“Walking through here was just a sight of absolute devastation, I have never seen something like this ever before,” local resident Simon Lapping told the Citizen newspaper. He said he saw the bodies of six adults and two children.

The incident will be investigated, said Tania Campbell, the mayor of Ekurhuleni, the municipality which includes Boksburg.

“On behalf of the city, the office of the executive mayor commits itself to assisting all role players in ensuring that a comprehensive investigation takes place and those who are liable are brought to book,” she said.

With reporting from agencies

Updated: December 25, 2022, 9:46 AM