The explosion that rocked downtown Johannesburg on Wednesday afternoon may not have been caused by a gas pipeline.
It was initially suspected that the damage to the street, which looks like it was split wide open, was caused by an explosion of an underground gas pipe.
However, the Egoli gas company says it is “unlikely” that the explosion “was caused by a gas pipeline or leakage”.
“Our network has not experienced any loss of pressure, so this indicates that the gas pipelines are intact,” the company said on Wednesday.
“Our gas pipeline operates at extremely low pressure which provides safe gas supply in densely populated areas, therefore it is unlikely that the pipeline is the cause of the explosion.”
Technicians were still investigating the damage to Breestraat until late on Wednesday. The Egoli gas company says its pipeline in Breestraat, which was not even laid in the middle of the road, was checked and no damage was found.
A leak was indeed found on a 100 mm pipe at the corner of Breë- and Eloff Street.
“We believe the leakage in the pipe was caused by the collapse of the road surface. Our team is busy fixing the leak.”
According to the company, technicians came across several open manholes and it appears as if a “white gaseous substance” is coming from the openings, as well as from the open cracks in the road.
“The natural gas that flows through our pipes is not visible to the human eye, and the dust that comes out looks like it is visible hot steam.”
The company says it has already been able to determine that there are about 15 different pipelines in the area, such as the sewer pipeline that is located under the street.
The inexplicable blast that tore through Breestraat during rush hour left a total of 41 with minor to serious injuries.
“It is a miracle there are no deaths,” said Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi.
According to the prime minister, two of the injured are currently in a critical condition, nine are seriously injured and 30 people have suffered minor injuries.
A preliminary investigation into the cause of the explosion has already been launched, but it is still unclear at this stage what caused the damage.
Lesufi said on Wednesday that the “situation is completely under control” and that experts will determine the “full extent” of the damage and “make recommendations on the way forward”.
“The damage is great. It’s a bad situation.”