9 killed in South Africa after gas tanker explodes
Johannesburg: At least nine people, including two fire-fighters, were killed and many others injured after a gas tanker which got stuck under a low railway bridge exploded in Boksburg town of South Africa on Saturday, officials said.
Ekurhuleni Emergency Management Services (EMS) spokesperson William Ntladi said a hospital was also damaged in the incident.
He confirmed that nine people, including two firemen, were killed, adding that six fire-fighters have been hospitalised.
According to eyewitnesses, the gas tanker exploded as the firefighters were trying to extinguish a small fire that resulted after the tanker got stuck inside the low bridge.
They also recounted to local media how people seated on the grass outside the hospital adjacent to the site of the explosion suffered third-degree burns.
Several people were airlifted to hospitals for treatment.
Officials have not yet given the exact number of injured in the explosion.
Meanwhile, family members rushed to hospitals to check on their dear ones after seeing social media reports of the incident, but were not allowed in as forensic experts combed the area.
Ntladi said the railway bridge has been completely destroyed and two nearby houses have also been damaged in the incident.
“The intensity of the flames that shot up high above and on either side of the bridge left solid steel tracks and pylons completely twisted, with the concrete bridge collapsing completely,” he said.
Media reports said the tanker driver has miraculously survived the accident, but was too traumatised to talk about why he had attempted to pass under the bridge that was lower than the tanker he was driving.
Officials said Gauteng Provincial Premier Panyaza Lesufi is on his way to the scene amid reports that an emergency crisis centre will be set up near the hospital.
Relief aid organisation ‘Gift of the Givers’ has reached the scene to provide medical help and other assistance to the victims.