- Technicians use radar to penetrate the ground under Lilian Ngoyi Street.
- The site could not be reached because of the suspended gas, which is believed to have caused the explosion.
- City officials say work to restore the main taxi lane will begin on Monday.
Technicians, using ground penetrating radar, were seen entering the manhole on Sunday, near the site of a gas explosion on Lilian Ngoyi Street (formerly Wild Street) in downtown Johannesburg.
Parts of Lilian Ngoyi Street were destroyed when a gas explosion rocked the crowded city center during rush hour on Wednesday afternoon.
News24 was unable to speak to the technicians on Sunday as barbed wire fences surrounded the street.
Floyd Brink, the city manager of Johannesburg, confirmed in a press briefing on Friday that the explosion, which killed one person and injured 48 others, was caused by the gas.
The city’s emergency management services team uses positive pressure ventilation fans to blow out the gas trapped in the underground system.
Brink promised the tunnels would be free of gas in time for electricity to be restored on Monday.
“By Monday, we expect all manholes to be safe to open, including welded manholes, once ventilation is completed and gas is successfully extracted to the atmosphere.”
The residents have been without water and electricity since the accident.
Lilian Ngoyi Street was cordoned off so that neither cars nor pedestrians could enter the flooded road.
Johannesburg Water has deployed 25 chemical toilets, five static tanks and four traveling water tanks for residents.
Brink said disaster management and social development teams will arrange hot meals for residents after ward council members received complaints that residents could not cook meals without electricity.
On Sunday, News24 spoke to members of Meals on Wheels. The team did not have permission to speak to the media.
They were handing out packages of stew with vegetables and starch.
A resident descended from the tall Allied building with his three daughters. The children were so happy that they received a hot meal at 14:00. The father waited for the girls to get their food before taking a box for himself. He smiled, thanked the team, and disappeared down the stairs.
The team has supplied 600 meals a day since Friday.
Technicians declared high-rise apartment buildings safe.
At the top of the 400-meter blast site between Resic and Loveday Streets, technicians are seen entering the cavity under the road and passing strings through a tool that helps draw the tunnel.
Many manholes have been closed to prevent theft of infrastructure.
When the gas has been cleared, the caps will be secure enough for technicians to open the entry points to gain access further out of the way.
Technicians inspect the safer entrance to the tunnel under the collapsed Lilian Ngoyi Road.
There are many cavities under the Johannesburg CBD – there was an old mail tunnel under Lillian Ngoy and a brick tunnel containing electricity and communication cables, gas and water pipes, Brink said.
He said that the quarry tunnel was the site of the explosion.
Meanwhile, on Sunday several well-dressed women (who call themselves influencers) and a few families arrived while News24 was on the scene.
People all tried to get to the road as far as the police would allow them to take selfies.
From the night of the explosion to the present day, the holes in the ground have widened, and Brink warned that the road could collapse if people entered the site.