A suspected gas explosion rocked South Africa’s largest city on Wednesday, leaving at least 1 person dead and dozens injured.
Authorities in Johannesburg are investigating the cause of an explosion that resulted in the death of a man whose body was found by firefighters underneath a vehicle.
In addition to the man’s death, at least 48 people are said to have been injured.
The cause of the blast during evening rush hour Wednesday in downtown Johannesburg remains unclear. The company that supplies gas to that part of the city said it did not believe its underground pipelines were responsible, as authorities first thought.
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An investigation is underway as city authorities brought in specialists to determine what other underground pipes or cables there were in the area and to determine if there was a threat of another explosion or gas leak.
“We are still searching for the source,” said Panyaza Lesufi, the premier of the Gauteng province, where Johannesburg is located.
Authorities estimated that an area covering five city blocks was damaged and at least six roads were affected. At least 34 vehicles were damaged, with some of them flipped on their sides or lying on top of other vehicles. Others had tumbled into gaping crevices that appeared in the middle of roads as the damage resembled a scene from an apocalyptic movie.
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The explosion happened just before 5:45 p.m. Wednesday, Lesufi said, just as many people were gathering on the streets to catch a minibus taxi home, one of South Africa’s most common commuting methods. Most of the damaged vehicles were minibus taxis. Eyewitnesses said some people were sitting in the buses when the explosion threw them into the air.
One man, who did not give his name, told television station eNCA that he was in his car when he heard, “a big sound. The next thing, I was in the air and my car was overturning.”
He said he was shaken but unhurt.
The blast comes just a few weeks after another explosion, on the eastern outskirts of Johannesburg, killed 17 people including three children ageS 1, 5 and 15.
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Authorities have blamed that explosion on a toxic gas leak allegedly related to an illegal gold processing operation.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.