Harbour explosion: Full investigation into fatal explosion aboard fishing trawler launched

The Realeka fishing trawler. Picture: Supplied

The Realeka fishing trawler. Picture: Supplied

Published May 15, 2024


Cape Town - Oceana Group Limited said the fatal explosion aboard one of its fishing trawlers docked near Amawandle Hake in Table Bay Harbour will be fully investigated.

Contractors were busy with repairs on board the vessel, identified as the Realeka, at around 5pm on Monday when a nitrogen tank exploded.

The explosion happened while a manufacturing company was installing and testing new equipment alongside the Elbow Quay.

Five men who were injured in the explosion were transported to a nearby hospital for medical attention, while a 49-year-old man was declared dead at the site.

Emergency personnel combed the scene for several hours on Monday night while ventilating the engine room of refrigeration gas, which could be an ammonia-containing combination. A hazmat technician was also present while gas detection meters were requested.

Other emergency services like Netcare911 and Metro EMS also attended this scene.

According to a source, who left the vicinity hours before the explosion, workers were doing a pressure test, but details surrounding the incident are sketchy.

“I was there but I left like around one in the afternoon so it’s still unclear. I know the guy that did the pressure test is from South Africa,” he explained.

“Yoh, I really don’t know what happened, so many stories, but someone passed on.”

Oceana Group Limited communications manager Tiana Fataar said two people were being treated for serious injuries while the others who have been treated for minor injuries were discharged.

“Our thoughts are with all the affected families, and we are working together with the manufacturer to provide whatever support is necessary,” she said.

Police initially said a second person had succumbed to his injuries in hospital but Fataar said only one person had died in the incident.

“I've verified from our side and there has only been one fatality.”

Fataar said the incident will be fully investigated, but their priority now is to provide whatever assistance they can.

“Counselling is being provided for anyone who requires it. Our priority now is to provide whatever assistance we can.”

Fataar couldn’t confirm yesterday whether it was one of their employees who died, or from the contractor.

When the Cape Argus visited the scene yesterday morning, not much was happening. There were no signs of any emergency services or personnel on the scene.

With heavy-duty vehicles constantly coming and going, it was business as usual for the nearby shipping companies.

The Table Bay Harbour police have registered an inquest docket for further investigation.

Earlier reports suggested Cabo Beach Club was the scene of the incident, but the restaurant took to social media to clear up any misunderstandings.

“The explosion that took place was in fact not at Cabo, but at our neighbours Amawandle Hake next door.

“We are doing everything we can to comfort those affected and would like to commend Cape Town Emergency Services for their amazing response time and level of care to all those affected.”

Anyone with information about what happened can call Crime Stop on 08600 10111.

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