Eighteen people have already died and countless more have been injured in the LPG gas tanker explosion in Boksburg on Christmas Eve, and even more fatalities are expected as more wounded people may succumb to their wounds.
Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) teams were out in full force on Tuesday, inspecting the extensive damage to the railway line that led across the collapsed bridge under which the tanker got stuck and exploded.
Landscape bent and twisted
Tracks were twisted like spaghetti, uplifted from the gravel and metal bent as if it were playdough.
Along the edges of what used to be the bridge, were heaps of rubble concrete, uplifted stormwater drains, and ground that still seemed hot to the touch.
Teddy bears, kids’ toys and flowers lay beside one another, left there by the community and loved ones in memory of where family and friends took their final breath.
A sense of despair lingers all over the place.
And when you close your eyes, it’s possible to imagine the screams, panic and subsequent pain when the tanker exploded.
Hospital escaped serious damage
Lebogang Maile, Gauteng MEC for human settlements and infrastructure development, visited Tambo Memorial Hospital yesterday, and provided a preliminary report on the investigation undertaken by the department on the damage to the hospital.
Although Maile said the hospital did not suffer any serious structural damage, he noted the MEC for health would make a determination working with the clinicians whether the hospital would be closed.
According to Maile, an investigation done by engineers confirmed there “has not been any fundamental impact” on the hospital structure following the explosion, but there were several damages, which included some windows, doors, roofs and electrical equipment.
Maile said this has resulted in electrical repair costs estimated to be around R18 million for the Gauteng government and added the total cost of the damage had not yet been quantified.
“The repairs relate to light fittings, cables, cable channels and other related electrical issues,” he said.
“We have already appointed contractors to do immediate things like windows and doors.”
Maile said the casualty, emergency unit, theatre, X-ray, and antenatal wards were affected but there was a contractor on site attending to the issues.
“From the infrastructure point of view, we will be able to do our work even if patients are here.
“They will prioritise areas to ensure patients don’t suffer and that the hospital is able to continue providing services.”
Meanwhile, the department has called on affected families to visit the mortuary to identify their loved ones at the Germiston Forensic Pathology Services.
Additional reporting by Lunga Simelane and Vhahangwele Nemakonde