The City of Johannesburg said on Friday that a gas explosion in the Johannesburg central business district could pose a fatal threat to soil cavities such as the basements of buildings but so far, nine buildings have tested negative.
The busy Lilian Ngoyi (formerly Berri) Street collapsed Wednesday afternoon when an underground gas pipe exploded. One person was killed, about 50 others were wounded, and dozens of vehicles and taxis were damaged in the explosion.
The city said it had assessed the gas leaking into the atmosphere and inspected nearby buildings for the collapsed road.
“We have been reassured… by environmental services and city air quality monitors that the gas escaping into the atmosphere poses no danger to residents because its concentration drops rapidly outdoors. Gas escaping into soil cavities such as basements can be fatal,” said City Manager Floyd Brink.
Brink said they searched cellars in the area, but so far no cellar has been cleared.
“As per our commitment on Thursday, we have since screened nine buildings in the area and at this point our test results are negative. We have had difficulty accessing one building and will finish testing as soon as we have access.”
On the other hand, only three of the 48 injured are still in hospital while the rest have been discharged.
During a visit to some patients at Charlotte Maxic Academic Hospital on Thursday, MEC Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko found that none of the injured showed signs of gas inhalation. Instead, the most common injuries were fractures and injuries to muscles and soft tissues.
Experts told TimesLIVE on Thursday that buildings near Bree Street were likely affected by the blast, but that the structural integrity of the buildings depended on their foundations.
But Brink assured the residents that the buildings next to the collapsed road were safe enough for them to occupy.
“[The buildings] They have been inspected and at this stage no signs have been detected and the buildings are considered to be structurally sound for their occupancy.”