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By Cornelia Le Roux

Digital Deputy News Editor

Joburg CBD explosion: Saps respond to claims of missing child ‘possibly underground’

Police are investigating claims that a child went missing amid the suspected gas explosion in the Johannesburg CBD.

Gauteng Police Commissioner Elias Mawela has confirmed on Thursday morning that police are following up on claims by residents that a child was hit by debris following the devastating underground explosion which ripped through Bree Street, in central Johannesburg, on Wednesday afternoon.

Claims of missing child

“People say the child may be deceased or underground,” Mawela revealed during the briefing, adding that no parents, however, have come forward to report their child as missing.

The police commissioner said they were investigating the matter. He said that search-and-rescue dogs were deployed in the affected areas, but the operation has not yielded any results.

Mawela also called on the parents of the missing child to open a case with the police.

Body found under car wreckage, 48 others injured

Johannesburg Emergency Services (EMS) recovered the body of the male victim from under the wreckage of a car in the early hours of this morning.

Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi confirmed that 48 people were injured when the blast destroyed large sections of Bree Street and Rissik Street, causing a massive gaping sinkhole and cracks in the tar.

Twelve people were still receiving medical attention for their injuries at various hospitals in the city.

WATCH: The moment of impact

What caused the Joburg explosion?

“Egoli Gas remains our centre of focus,” said Lesufi at a media briefing on Thursday morning.

The premier said early indications were that one of the gas provider’s pipelines may have exploded.

Egoli Gas, however, has denied these claims in a statement released after completing its inspection of the CBD pipeline network.

It said the pipeline running on the road servitude of Bree Street was not damaged.

“A small leak has been detected on the servitude pipeline at the corner of Bree and Eloff on a 100mm pipe. We believe the crack in the pipe has been caused by the collapse of the road,” the statement read.

“Egoli Gas notes that there are approximately 15 other utility lines in the same area, for example, a sewerage line that runs directly underneath the street. We would like to reiterate that our pipelines run on the servitude of the road.

joburg johannesburg cbd gas explosion bree street
The suspected gas explosion in Bree Street, in the Johannesburg CBD, caused mayhem and destruction on Wednesday afternoon, 19 July. Photo: Twitter @elder_I_

‘White gas-like substance’ coming from manholes

“Egoli Gas observed through various platforms and by onsite members that one or two manhole covers have been blown off, and a white gas-like substance is seen coming from these openings, as well as some of the exposed cracks in the road.

“Egoli Gas would like to mention that our piped natural gas is not visible to the human eye, and this appears to be visible warm steam.”

NOW READ: Eyewitness on taxis flying, ‘smell of gas’: All the stories on the Joburg CBD explosion

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