Boksburg explosion: Fatalities increases to 15, Phaahla confirms
Three of the deceased were staff members at the Tambo Memorial Hospital.
The collapsed railway bridge where a truck carrying LPG Gas exploded on Christmas Eve. Picture: Hein Kaiser
The death toll from the gas tanker explosion in Boksburg, Ekurhuleni has now risen to 15, Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla has confirmed.
Phaahla, alongside Gauteng MEC for Health and Wellness, Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko, briefed the media on Christmas day to assess the impact of the explosion on the functioning of the Tambo Memorial Hospital.
It’s understood that the gas tanker exploded as the firefighters were busy extinguishing the flames.
Phaala said three of the deceased, including a driver and two enrolled nurses who got severe burns, were staff members at the hospital.
“Yesterday as of 6pm, the death toll was at 10 people and now we are sitting at 15 people as of this morning. We send our deepest condolences for the families that lost their loved ones. We wish a speedy recovery to those that are recuperating in hospital,” he said on Sunday.
While approximately 37 people were reported to have been injured on Saturday, the minister also said that just over 10 staff members sustained injuries.
“So far 13 staff members have suffered injuries. As of Saturday night at 6pm, the number of patients admitted in the facility is 321. No new patients have been admitted since then,” he said.
Phaala said Tambo Memorial Hospital is on divert and will not be admitting more patients.
“We are sending people to other facilities nearby. The visit to the facility is suspended until further notice. We appeal for patience from the family members. People can call to check the status of their loved ones.”
Structural damage to the hospital
The Department of Health said the hospital suffered severe damage.
“Major structural damage was at the Accident and Emergency Unit and X ray Departments where server damage occurred. The roof was damaged, ceilings fell, widow broken, and other equipment damaged.”
“Most of the minor structural damages were in the form of breaking of windows; ceilings fell off. In most of the floors where the windows were broken, it was observed that there was blood on the floor possibly of injured staff and or patients,” the department said.
The department said by the end of next week there will be a high-level report covering various areas to give a sense what is the state of the hospital and what kind of work will need to the done to get the facilities on track.
“There has been a lot of support from civil society, NGOs, businesses and all the three sleeves of government. Water and basic consumables are available thanks to the generosity. Messages of support have been pouring on from all quarters.”
Meanwhile, the company that employs the driver that was involved in the fuel tanker explosion confirmed that it is investigating the incident.
In a statement, Innovative Staffing Solutions (ISS) said on Saturday it has started an “internal and independent investigation” into the circumstances of the explosion.
The company also said the driver of the fuel tanker is “highly experienced”.
Furthermore, the EFF has called for the CEO of the logistics company, Infinity Gas, which owns the truck.
“Ultimately, the CEO is responsible for all operations of the company and is culpable for the tragedy,” the EFF said.