(Update 1: Changes headline, reledes, adds detail throughout)
Johannesburg, Jul 20 (EFE).- At least one person was killed and 48 others were injured in a suspected underground gas explosion in a central business district of Johannesburg in South Africa, local authorities confirmed Thursday.
“We recovered the body of a man in the vicinity of the area where the accident occurred,” Johannesburg Emergency Management Services spokesman Robert Mulaudzi told local media.
“It appears that the person was trapped under the rubble of a taxi,” he added.
An explosion rocked the city center on Wednesday just after 5pm severely damaging a busy road on the intersection between Lillian Ngoyi and Loveday streets.
Photos shared by eyewitnesses on social media show huge cracks on Bree Street as well as overturned vehicles with shattered glass.
Although initial reports pointed to an underground gas pipeline bursting, the cause remains unknown.
Panyaza Lesufi, the provincial Premier of Gauteng, assured reporters that all private and public companies with infrastructure in the city had been called to review their systems to trace the origin of the incident.
“The situation is completely under control. Our reinforcement agencies and our emergency agencies…are still trying to get specific answers, for example, whether the gas came from our gas tunnels of Egoli Gas or whether it came from any other source,” Lesufi said.
“It is indeed a bad situation. The damage is extensive. It’s a miracle that there are no fatalities,” he added.
Municipal energy company City Power said it has so far been unable to access the cables and electrical infrastructure under the affected streets, while the private Egoli Gas company said its pipes were not damaged, although they did find a small crack they said was caused by the road collapsing.
Emergency teams have closed part of the affected street and have ordered residents of buildings located near the site of the incident to evacuate.
The incident occurred two weeks after 17 people, including three children, died due to a gas leak in the informal Angelo settlement near the city of Boksburg, about 30 kilometers (19 miles) east of Johannesburg.
At least 41 people were also killed in Boksburg in December last year from a gas tanker blast. EFE