Rescuers say the deadly blast occurred after a tanker carrying LPG got caught beneath a bridge close to a hospital and houses.
The death toll from a fuel tanker explosion in Boksburg, a South African city east of Johannesburg, has risen to 15, the country’s health minister said on Sunday.
“Yesterday [Saturday], the death toll was at 10 people and now we are sitting at 15 as of this morning,” Joe Phaahla told reporters at Tambo Memorial Hospital, close to where the blast took place.
The explosion happened after the tanker, which was transporting liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), got caught beneath a bridge close to a hospital and houses, according to the emergency services.
“We received a call towards 7:50am (05:50 GMT) telling us a gas tanker was stuck under a bridge,” William Ntladi, spokesperson for the emergency services in the region, told the AFP news agency.
“Firefighters were called to extinguish the flames. Unfortunately, the tanker exploded,” he said.
One of those injured was the driver, who has been taken to hospital, he added.
He said the death toll had risen to 10 from the nine reported earlier.
Videos shared by residents on social media showed the dramatic explosion, with pedestrians running away from the blaze and cars dramatically speeding away.
Several houses and vehicles have been damaged by the explosion, according to local reports.
The tanker was reportedly delivering gas 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, media reports said.
“Walking through here was just a sight of absolute devastation. I have never seen something like this ever before,” resident Simon Lapping told the local Citizen newspaper.
He said he saw the bodies of six adults and two children.
Of the 40 injured, 19 are in critical condition, while 15 others are seriously hurt but in stable condition, said Ntadi from the emergency services.
Six firefighters were also lightly injured, he said.
There was no immediate information on those killed in the blast.
The truck was carrying 60,000 litres of LPG, which is used primarily in cooking and gas stoves.
The incident will be investigated, said Tania Campbell, the mayor of Ekurhuleni, the municipality which includes Boksburg.
“The disaster management cluster is on-site assisting the victims of this tragedy and assessing the cause of the accident,” she said.
“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.”
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