South African officials have launched a probe into Wednesday deadly gas line explosion in Johannesburg that left about fifty people.
The incident caused damage to dozens of cars, leaving at least one person dead after tearing the road network in affected area.
Pupils, workers, and pedestrains had to cross the damaged roads despite warnings to steer clear of the affected area.
The street has been cordoned off as vehicular movement is disrupted by traffic.
City of Johannesburg Mayor Kabelo Gwamanda said any of the water, gas and electricity pipes “congesting” the City’s underground infrastructure may have caused the explosion on Wednesday afternoon.
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The Johannesburg Emergency Management Services (EMS) has reacted to fears that a secondary one could happen.
Johannesburg EMS spokesperson Robert Mulaudzi said: “There is still a risk of a secondary explosion, hence we are discouraging people from going to the area. If there is a need to evacuate people, we will do that.”
While the cause of the explosion has not yet been confirmed, Mulaudzi said illegal mining could not be ruled out.
The Johannesburg Mayor Kabelo Gwamanda said what had happened was “indeed a tragedy.
A voluntary evacuation of people living in the buildings near where the explosion occurred has been taking place.
The Department of Human Settlements is also doing occupational assessment and also assisting with [evaluating] the integrity of the buildings to determine if the foundations have been affected.
It was suspected that the explosion was caused by an underground gas leak, however, Egoli Gas – a piped natural gas reticulation company that services more than 8,500 customers in the greater Johannesburg area – said neither its network nor any gas pipeline leak was detected on its systems.
“Our gas pipeline operates at extremely low pressure, providing safe gas supply in highly built-up areas and is therefore unlikely to cause an explosion,” Egoli Gas said.
It also pointed out that the road collapsed mainly in the centre, whereas its pipelines are located on the sides of roads.