Panyaza Lesufi, Premier of Gauteng, says the body of a man was found in the early hours of the morning in Breestraat after an underground explosion rocked this part of Johannesburg the day before.
According to Lesufi, the victim’s body was found at the corner of Bree and Joubert Street.
“While law enforcement authorities were busy removing the vehicles in the area, they found the body of a man under one of the cars,” he says.
“The deceased has not yet been identified and the police are trying to locate his next of kin.”
By Thursday morning, the number of people injured due to the explosion stood at 48.
“At this stage there are still 12 patients in the hospital; the rest have already been dismissed.”
Chaos in the city center
Chaos reigned in the city center on Thursday morning after several streets were blocked off. Hundreds of motorists and commuters had to use alternative routes to get to work and this led to major delays and traffic congestion.
“The road closures are a big headache because Breestraat is one of the busiest streets in the city centre,” says Lesufi.
Despite the chaos, the city center is accessible to the public.
“The metro police and the police manage the road closures and secure the scene,” he says.
More law enforcement officers are expected to be dispatched to the scene throughout the day.
Please avoid Lilian Ngoyi (Bree) Street in JHB CBD between Eloff and Harrison streets. The road is closed following yesterday’s explosion and road collapse.
– From eastbound travel along Lilian Ngoyi, turn right into Simmonds and then left into either… pic.twitter.com/Xb4Wz0yN4v
— City of Joburg (@CityofJoburgZA) July 20, 2023
People were stunned on Wednesday when an explosion split open the surface of Breestraat.
It was initially suspected that the damage was caused by an explosion of an underground gas pipeline. However, the gas company Egoli Gas has already said that its pipelines did not suffer any damage, except for a leak that was noticed on one of its low-pressure pipelines.
Lesufi says there are experts at the scene to help determine whether the explosion can indeed be attributed to gas, as there is still a smell of gas in the air.
“All the companies that have gas pipelines in the city, such as Egoli Gas and Sasol, are on the scene, as well as anyone else who has an underground pipeline or cables, such as Telkom and City Power,” he says.
“These teams are going to help us determine what caused the explosion, and what the way forward is.”
City Power has already shut down three of its substations so that its infrastructure can be examined for any damage. Residents served by the Bree, Braamfontein and Johnware substation will have their power supply interrupted until further notice.
Lesufi says the teams responsible for determining the cause of the explosion said as part of their crisis management planning that it is possible that a second explosion could take place in the area.
“We’re not saying it’s going to happen, but it’s definitely possible.
“In the meantime, the teams are doing everything possible – such as closing roads – to prevent any loss of life if there is another explosion.”