Four Zimbabweans have been confirmed to be among the 18 people killed when a tanker carrying liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) exploded in Boksburg, in South Africa’s Gauteng province on Saturday morning.
Over 30 others who escaped with varying degrees of injuries, are admitted at medical facilities around Johannesburg, South Africa’s commercial capital.
Zimbabwe’s Consul-General in Johannesburg, Mrs Melody Chaurura confirmed the deaths.
“It’s indeed a dark holiday for us. As the consulate, we have since been advised that four Zimbabwean nationals lost their lives in the Boksburg gas explosion,” said Mrs Chaurura.
“We will be visiting the affected families this afternoon (yesterday) after which I will be able to share more information in addition to providing the usual consular assistance.”
She said the incident was devastating considering that six other Zimbabweans were killed when a vehicle they were travelling in was involved in a road accident in the Musina policing area.
The incident occurred around Dorothy Farm a few kilometres south of Musina town along the N1 highway.
Mrs Chaurura said the matter was being handled by Musina police.
“According to details at hand, a truck with registration number FN66GP was driving from Musina heading towards Beitbridge, when a white colt with registration number NSZ778GP driving towards Musina collided head on with the truck,” she said.
“The accident claimed the lives of two females aged 15 and 36 and four males aged 10, 3 and 3 months plus a male driver whose age was not revealed.
“Their identities are being withheld as their next of kin are yet to be advised”.
Mrs Chaurura added that the Consulate has since dispatched a team to assist with the identification and repatriation of remains.
“We convey our deepest condolences to the bereaved families and also wish to express our appreciation to the host government authorities in Limpopo Province for their support when such tragedies occur,” she added.
The N1 is one of the major commercial roads linking South Africa with most Sadc countries north of the Zambezi River.
Over 50 Zimbabweans have perished between Pretoria and Musina in the last 24 months.
In the Boksburg incident, scores of people were injured while eight were killed instantly when the tanker got stuck under a low bridge in Boksburg city, about 100m from Tambo Memorial Hospital.
It is reported that patients were evacuated from the hospital’s casualty section after part of the roof collapsed following the blast.
Media liaison officer emergency services at Ekurhuleni Municipality, Mr William Ntladi told the media that the gas tanker drove under the subway bridge and got stuck there, and owing to friction, it caught fire and exploded.
Indications are that the tanker exploded as emergency crews were trying to put out a fire at the bridge. The blast destroyed two houses and several cars, injuring bystanders.