According to officials, thirty-four people have now died due to a tanker truck explosion on Christmas Eve close to eastern Johannesburg, including ten medical personnel working at a local hospital.
When the vehicle transporting gas became caught beneath a low-lying bridge in the town of Boksburg, it set fire to itself.
Emergency services officials said the truck burst as firefighters attempted to put out the fires.
According to police, a “fire bomb” from the explosion severely destroyed Tambo Memorial Hospital, roughly 100 meters (110 yards) away.
Several medical personnel was in the hospital’s parking lot, some preparing to depart after their shifts and others attempting to relocate their cars away from the fire.
According to Minister of Health Joe Phaahla, the hospital’s emergency room and X-ray department suffered severe damage in addition to the fatalities.
Residents who had gathered to watch the flaming truck also perished. Though some were eventually transported to other hospitals in the Johannesburg region, at least 321 injured persons were brought to the damaged hospital.
According to officials, the explosion also caused damage to several homes and automobiles.
Rolf Bjornstad, a local, described the explosion on South Africa’s News24 website as “a fireball in the sky.”
The heat was leaking into the residence. I considered my wife, kids, and aiding those impacted,” he stated.
All those who died in the tragedy were remembered at a memorial ceremony organized by the South Africa Council of Churches.
A few days after the collision, the 32-year-old motorist was arrested and released by authorities who claimed there wasn’t enough information to charge him.
According to officials, the tanker truck was traveling from the South African port of Richards Bay in the Indian Ocean to Botswana to deliver liquefied petroleum gas used for heating and cooking in homes and businesses.
According to Innovative Staff Solutions, the organization that had employed him, the driver was not careless.
He was taking a right turn to return to the highway after taking a false turn. He halted and predicted that the truck would pass beneath the bridge even though the clearance for the bridge was not evident.
However, he did not factor in that the vehicle’s back end would rise as the front fell in a dip.
The truck driver tried to keep drivers and pedestrians away from the scene when the vehicle’s tail became trapped, and he phoned the fire department.
Shortly before the explosion, he passed out from breathing in the gas fumes and was taken away by an ambulance, according to local media.
The event will be looked into, according to Tania Campbell, mayor of the municipality of Ekurhuleni, which encompasses Boksburg.
The death toll from a gas tanker blast in Johannesburg on Christmas Eve has climbed to 27, the provincial health department said on Thursday. Olivia Chan has more. pic.twitter.com/teLPSOZsA5
— Reuters Africa (@ReutersAfrica) December 29, 2022