South African fuel tanker explosion death toll rises to 15 | news

Rescuers say the deadly blast happened after a tanker carrying LPG became stuck under a bridge near a hospital and houses.

The death toll from a fuel truck 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 10 people and now we’re sitting at 15 this morning,” Joe Phaahla told reporters at Tambo Memorial Hospital near where the blast took place.

The explosion happened after the tanker, which was transporting liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), became trapped under a bridge near a hospital and houses, according to emergency services.

“We received a call around 7:50 a.m. (05:50 GMT) telling us that a gas tanker was stuck under a bridge,” William Ntladi, spokesman for the area’s emergency services, told AFP.

“The fire brigade was called to put out the flames. Unfortunately, the tanker exploded,” he said.

One of the injured was the driver, who was taken to hospital, he added.

He said the death toll had risen to 10 from the previously reported nine.

Videos shared by residents on social media showed the dramatic blast, with pedestrians running from the blaze and cars dramatically speeding away.

Several homes and vehicles were damaged in the blast, according to local reports.

The tanker was reportedly delivering gas to the nearby OR Tambo Memorial Hospital, where some of the injured were being treated. Patients in some departments of 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’ve never seen anything like it before,” local resident Simon Lapping told local newspaper Citizen.

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 injured but in stable condition, Ntadi of the emergency services said.

Six firefighters were also slightly injured, he said.

There was no immediate information about those killed in the blast.

The truck had loaded 60,000 liters of LPG, which is mainly used in cooking and gas stoves.

The incident is being investigated, said Tania Campbell, the mayor of Ekurhuleni, the municipality to which Boksburg belongs.

“The Disaster Management Cluster is on the ground to assist the victims of this tragedy and determine the cause of the accident,” she said.

“On behalf of the city, the office of the Lord Mayor undertakes to support all those involved in ensuring that a comprehensive investigation takes place and that those responsible are held accountable.”

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