The death toll from the fuel tanker explosion in South Africa has risen to 15
Health Minister Joe Bahla announced Sunday that the death toll from the catastrophic fuel tanker explosion in Boksburg, south Africa, east of Johannesburg, has risen to 15.
“Yesterday (Saturday), the death toll was 10, and now we are sitting at 15 until this morning,” Pahla told reporters at Tambo Memorial Hospital.
The tanker, carrying liquefied petroleum gas, was caught under a bridge close to the hospital and homes on Saturday morning in Boksburg, east of Johannesburg.
The minister said that three hospital staff, two nurses and a driver, died later of serious injuries.
37 people were injured, including 24 patients and 13 staff who were in the accident and emergency department of the hospital at the time of the explosion.
Bahla said that they “suffered severe burns and were transferred to nearby hospitals.”
He added that others were injured by shattered glass, while others were injured while they were in the parking lot or in front of the hospital.
“We send our deepest condolences to the families who have lost loved ones,” he said.
Damaged roof, broken windows
Videos on social media showed a huge fireball under the bridge, apparently the tanker was too high to crash it.
It was carrying 60,000 liters of liquefied petroleum gas, which is mainly used in cooking and gas stoves, and it came from the southeast of the country.
The Minister of Health said that the explosion severely damaged the hospital’s ER and emergency unit and x-ray departments.
“The roof was damaged, ceilings fell, windows were shattered, and other equipment was damaged,” Bahla said.
He added that windows were shattered on most floors of the hospital.
Witness Jean-Marie Boisen described on Saturday how she felt a “huge jolt” in the early hours of the morning, shortly after 6:30 (4:30 a.m. GMT).
“I went upstairs for my cup of tea and saw the huge flames, and I thought the house was on fire.”
She said she later learned of the deaths of “two…here across the road, 16, the girl, and 25, the boy, who came and made my garden every weekend for me”.
Another witness named William, who did not give his name, said people nearby felt the explosion.
“I think I was about 50 meters (164 feet) from the scene… We were burned behind our backs,” he said.