A suspected underground gas explosion in Johannesburg has created chaos, during rush hour, causing more than 20 cars to flip over and injuring at least 41 people, according to authorities.
Authorities stated that the incident which took place in South Africa’s largest city has not left any life-threatening injuries or resulted in any deaths.
Panyaza Lesufi, the premier of Gauteng province, where Johannesburg is located, expressed concerns about the potential collapse of buildings in the damaged area.
The incident left a zone of destruction estimated to cover five city blocks, with some 23 overturned vehicles scattered about the scene. The streets displayed large cracks and holes, some of which were deep enough to cause vehicles to slide into them.
While gas is suspected to be the cause of the explosion on Johannesburg’s busy Bree Street, it remains unclear whether the gas leaked from the city’s underground pipes or originated from another unidentified source.
Johannesburg gas supplier Egoli Gas has ruled out the possibility of one of its pipelines being responsible for the blast. The company confirmed that there were no interruptions in its supply in the area and its investigators found no signs of leaks.
The explosion occurred around 5 pm local time when many people were present on the street, preparing to take a minibus taxi home – a common commuting method in South African cities. The blast left several minibus taxis and other cars on their sides or completely flipped over, some even stacked on top of one another.
Eyewitnesses reported that people were inside some of the minibuses when the explosion happened, sending them flying into the air. In the immediate aftermath of the explosion, bystanders witnessed individuals running as smoke billowed from a crack in the road.
Emergency crews conducted searches through the damaged, overturned vehicles, and nearby structures as they looked for potential injured individuals.
Earlier this month, another tragic incident occurred in Johannesburg when a toxic nitrate gas leak from an illegal gold processing operation in an informal settlement resulted in the deaths of 17 people, including at least three children