Authorities warn locals to avoid central Johannesburg after a powerful blast.
An explosion ripped through one of the busiest streets of Johannesburg late on Wednesday, killing at least one person, injuring 48 others, and damaging a major road, according to South African officials.
Robert Mulaudzi, a spokesperson for the Johannesburg Emergency Management Services, said the body of a man was recovered from the debris by firefighters in the early hours of Thursday.
Writing on Twitter, he said “41 other patients treated for serious to minor injuries on scene” have been transported to medical facilities.
Witnesses told local media that they heard a loud explosion in the Central Business District, which tore the road open, followed by alarms from overturned taxis.
Authorities initially suspected underground gas pipes as the cause of the blast, which rendered Lilian Ngoyi Street and several others inaccessible to vehicles. However, Egoli Gas – which manages the city’s pipeline network – said a leak was “unlikely.”
“Our network has experienced no pressure loss, which indicates the gas pipelines are intact. Our customers in the area continue to receive gas uninterrupted,” the company said in a statement.
Panyaza Lesufi, Premier of the Gauteng province, which includes Johannesburg and Pretoria, said police have been deployed to cordon off the scene, ensure safety, and divert traffic.
The affected street and connecting roads will remain closed “while specialists assess the extent of the damage and for the rehabilitation of the roadway,” according to a statement issued by Lesufi on Thursday.
An investigation into the blast is ongoing.
Please avoid the Joburg CBD pic.twitter.com/8J8FufC3Bm
— Panyaza Lesufi (@Lesufi) July 19, 2023