The City of Johannesburg has identified three possible causes of the explosion that occurred on Lilian Ngoyi Street in the city centre. City manager Floyd Brink addressed the media from Mary Fitzgerald Square in Newtown, providing an update on the progress of the preliminary investigations and the City’s response to the explosion.
According to Brink, the possible causes of the explosion include:
- The ignition of methane gas in underground stormwater systems due to sewerage ingress.
- The ignition of natural gas mixed with oxygen in underground stormwater drainage systems or service ducts.
- The ignition of gas from a gas pipe bursts.
Casualties and Damages
The explosion, which occurred on Wednesday evening, resulted in one fatality and 48 injuries. The blast also caused significant damage to Lilian Ngoyi Street, with several vehicles being damaged and some falling into a sinkhole.
Evacuation and Safety Concerns
In the aftermath of the explosion, some residents in surrounding apartment buildings chose to evacuate, while others remained. Those who evacuated stated that they would return once they were reassured that the buildings were safe. Those who stayed cited reasons such as having nowhere else to go or being unable to afford alternative accommodation.
Brink stated that preliminary assessments showed that the buildings were structurally sound and there was no need for residents to evacuate. No cracks or broken windows could be attributed to the explosion. Buildings adjacent to the collapsed road have been inspected and no signs of failure have been detected. The buildings are regarded as structurally sound for occupation.
Air Quality and Environmental Concerns
Brink also stated that environmental services and air quality controllers had determined that the gas leak did not compromise air quality. Experts stated that gas concentration becomes weak in open air and therefore poses no threat.
Measures Taken by the City
The City has taken several measures in response to the explosion. Joburg EMS personnel have been deployed to monitor the affected site, and Joburg Water has temporarily cut off water supply. Water tankers have been deployed to support residents, and mobile ablution facilities will also be provided.
Egoli Gas is in the process of shutting down its gas pipes at the site of the explosion, with a complete shutdown expected by Thursday evening.