Boksburg explosion: Govt ‘still doesn’t have answers’, as death toll rises to 40
Lesufi wishes to conclude the ongoing investigation in order to 'go back to these families and explain what happened'.
The tunnel at the scene of a massive Boksburg explosion. Photo: The Citizen/Neil McCartney
Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi on Thursday gave an update pertaining to the Boksburg gas tanker explosion which took place on Christmas Eve.
The explosion was caused when a tanker carrying 60 000 litres of liquid petroleum gas wedged under a bridge and denoted, leaving suffering and destruction in its wake.
Boksburg explosion briefing
Addressing the media, Lesufi said there are “no words to adequately convey condolences to the affected families”, and vowed that the Gauteng Provincial Government will continue to assist in any way it can.
Lesufi said the death toll provided on Thursday was accurate at the time of publishing, the number could rise as updated information is received from various medical health facilities.
Death toll update
Eight people were confirmed dead at the scene, and the death toll has since continued to rise. As per Lesufi, the death toll now stands at 40.
He said: “It leaves me numb that since the last update on 4 January, we’ve lost 3 additional lives, [bringing] the number of deceased to 40″.
It’s a number that saddens us.
This figure, he said, was inclusive of 12 health workers. Meanwhile, 23 injured citizens have been discharged from hospital.
The premier said government is “moving urgently to restore the hospital”.
“Due to the urgent nature, the department of infrastructure and development appointed a contractor on 26 December, to repair the doors and the windows.”
Lesufi confirmed that the construction work has been completed. However, other needed repairs were placed on hold during the festive season break.
The casualty unit at the hospital remains closed due to the extent of the damage, however, a contractor was appointed on 4 January.
Repairs to the casualty unit is estimated to take four weeks.
Class action suite
RH Lawyers Incorporated is assisting at least 20 people affected by the explosion to institute legal action and file a class action lawsuit.
Lesufi said government believes it is “within their rights to pursue whatever means of recourse is available to them within the legal system”.
He added: “This does not mean that government must not pursue the matter to its logical conclusion, and will continue to give updates to affected families, communities and institutions.
We will be the last one to leave the scene.
No answers yet
He said government will not abandon its mission to “protect, care and give needed support”, and commits the Gauteng Provincial Department “to be there until the last moment”.
Lesufi concluded by saying he has the “extremely difficult task” of visiting every family who lost someone in the explosion.
“We remain hopeful that the investigations led by the police force will assist us to reach the final conclusion so we can go back to these families and explain what happened.”