Joburg Tanker Tragedy Death Toll Rises to 18
Joburg Tanker Tragedy Death Toll Rises to 18. Photo: Reuters keyframe

President Cyril Ramaphosa says he is is “deeply saddened” by the continued loss of life following the explosion of a truck near the OR Tambo Memorial Hospital on Christmas Eve, Saturday, 24 December 2022.

The damaged bridge where a gas tanker exploded in Boksburg near Johannesburg
The damaged bridge where a gas tanker exploded in Boksburg near Johannesburg, South Africa, December 24, 2022. REUTERS/Sumaya Hisham

To date, 18 people have lost their lives, a significant number have been injured and the hospital and surrounding public infrastructure have suffered extensive damage.

“Of the 18 deceased people, nine are Tambo Memorial Hospital staff,” the Gauteng Department of Health said in a statement. Patients and children were also amongst those who lost their lives.

The President said his thoughts are with the families and friends of those who have perished, and that he wishes the injured people a speedy and full recovery.

President Ramaphosa said:

“The nation’s hearts go out to everyone affected by this devastating incident.

“Such events take on greater sadness and tragedy when they occur at this time of year when all of us pray for safety and look forward to the togetherness and comfort of extended time with family and friends.

“In this instance, the loss of life is rendered more intense because some of the victims were hospital patients, hospital staff and children, while firefighters are counted among the injured.

“While we await the outcome of investigations into this tragedy, this incident does, like so many others, call on all of us to show due care and to avoid risk when we are out on our roads which we share as a public amenity.”

The President has expressed his appreciation for for the rescue and recovery efforts by Government agencies and services as well as organisations such as Gift of the Givers.

A gas tanker exploded in Boksburg near Johannesburg
Photo: Reuters keyframe

The explosion tore the roof off the emergency department at the Tambo Memorial hospital, destroyed two houses, several cars and injured bystanders up to 500 metres from the scene in the city’s Boksburg suburb.

The vehicle caught fire under a low bridge.

The truck driver has been arrested on suspicion of culpable homicide while the national and provincial departments of health have assessed damage to the hospital.

The Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality has begun the process of relocating families whose homes have been destroyed by the blast.

The President said:

“As Government, we are taking all necessary actions to bring relief to persons affected by the incident and we draw inspiration in our own efforts from the demonstrations of ubuntu we are seeing on the part of communities and community-based organisations.

“While these interventions bring us hope and light in our darkest hour, we must always live by the resolve to prevent such catastrophe from taking place in the first place.”

Sources: The Presidency and Reuters