At least 15 people have been killed, and about 40 injured, by a huge fuel tanker explosion near a hospital east of Johannesburg.
The tanker appeared to have got stuck under a low bridge on Saturday morning in Boksburg city, about 100m from Tambo Memorial Hospital.
Patients were evacuated from the hospital’s casualty after part of the roof collapsed following the blast.
The truck was carrying liquid petroleum gas.
William Ntladi emergency service spokesperson said as firefighters tried to put out the blaze, there was a huge second explosion – captured on amateur video – that destroyed a fire engine and two motor vehicles.
The additional death was confirmed by the Gauteng Department of Health on Thursday morning. This comes a day after Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi confirmed that the death toll from the explosion had risen from 18 to 26 during a visit to the affected families on Wednesday.
Gauteng health spokesperson Motaletale Modiba, in a voice note, confirmed the death of another healthcare worker, saying the death has brought the death toll of healthcare workers at Tambo Memorial Hospital to ten.
Several houses and vehicles have been damaged by the explosion, according to local reports.
The tanker was reportedly delivering gas to the nearby OR Tambo Memorial Hospital, where some of the injured were treated. Patients in some units at the hospital had to be evacuated because of the explosion and fire, media reports said.
“We can confirm that as of today, 29 December 2022, that we do have now 27 people that have since passed on as a result of having sustained serious injuries from the Boksburg explosion. The police have since confirmed and verified the death figures. This has been a very difficult week, as the impact from this disaster has been felt far and wide. It has also been more devastating to the affected families, including those who are on the front lines of providing health care services. Of the 27 deaths, sadly we again have lost another health care worker, which brings the total of health care workers to ten,” Modiba said.
Modiba said of the 13 staff members who suffered injuries from the blast, only three are still alive and in critical condition, adding that the department was praying for their speedy recovery.
On Wednesday, police confirmed the release of the truck driver due to a lack of evidence against him.
“On December 27, 2022, the suspect in the Boksburg explosion incident was interviewed and released on a warning by the police, pending further investigations. The suspect will, therefore, not be appearing in court today, on December 28, 2022. As soon as the investigations are concluded, the case docket will be sent to court for a decision,” police spokesperson Brenda Muridili said in a statement.
Footage apparently taken in the immediate aftermath of the blast shows a number of dazed and burned people stumbling around a residential area near the epicentre.