JOHANNESBURG (TodayNews) – One person has died and at least 48 others have been injured in an alleged underground gas explosion that ripped apart roads and overturned cars in the heart of South Africa’s largest city, authorities and emergency services said on Thursday.
>>> ACTIVITY STREAM NEWS JAX LIVE <<
Firefighters found the man’s body under the car.
The cause of the explosion during the evening rush hour in the center of Johannesburg remained unclear. The company, which supplies gas to this part of the city, said it did not believe its underground pipelines were to blame, as authorities first thought.
[DOWNLOAD: Free Action News Jax app for alerts as news breaks]
An investigation was underway: the city authorities brought in experts to determine what other underground pipes or cables were in the area and whether there was a threat of a new explosion or gas leak.
“We are still looking for the source,” said Panyaza Lesufi, premier of Gauteng province, where Johannesburg is located.
Firefighters found the man’s body during an overnight search of the blast site, Emergency Management Service spokesman Robert Mulaudzi said on Twitter.
Read: Gun violence down in Jacksonville, sheriff thanks police for proactive work
Lesufi said 12 people remained in several hospitals in Johannesburg for treatment. According to him, 36 more victims have been discharged.
Some people were evacuated from the area on Wednesday evening due to fears of a second explosion or that high-rise buildings in the city center could collapse.
Lesufi said, “The damage is extensive.”
On Thursday morning, however, people returned to the busy Johannesburg CBD area to either return home or work.
Read: Vice President Harris is expected to speak in Jacksonville on Friday against Florida’s new black history standards.
Authorities estimate that an area covering five city blocks was affected, and at least six roads were affected. At least 34 vehicles were damaged, some of them rolled onto their sides or lay on top of other vehicles. Others fell into gaping crevices in the middle of the roads as the damage looked like a scene from an apocalyptic movie.
The blast happened just before 5:45 p.m. Wednesday, Lesufi said, just as many people were gathering on the streets to take a minibus home, one of the most common ways to get home in South Africa. Most of the damaged vehicles were taxi vans. Several people were sitting on the buses when the blast threw them into the air, according to eyewitnesses.
Read: Tony Award winner Carlin Glynn dies at 83
One man, who did not give his name, told eNCA that he was in his car when he heard a “big sound”. The next moment I was already in the air, and my car turned over, ”he said. He said he was shocked but unharmed.
Immediately after the explosion, people saw people running and smoke coming out of a crack in the road.
Ambulance crews searched some of the crippled, overturned vehicles and nearby buildings late into the night, finding one dead, while the number of injured increased from the original nine people reported on Wednesday.
[SIGN UP: Action News Jax Daily Headlines Newsletter]
Click here to download Action News Jax free news and weather apps, Click here to download the Action News Jax Now app for your smart TV and Click here to broadcast Action News Jax live.