Cape Town – A logistics manager is in a stable condition and recovering in hospital after being injured in a gas tanker explosion in Worcester yesterday.
Bennie Koch, 61, who suffered multiple bruises and lacerations after being caught in the freak accident in High Street, Worcester, yesterday morning, was one of three people injured and was admitted to hospital in a critical condition.
Following the explosion near the town’s industrial area, multiple road closures - including Smit, Field, Brown and Church streets - were put in place.
The Breede Valley Municipality said a fire resulting from the explosion was extinguished just after 9am.
“Damage was sustained to seven buildings and two vehicles. Two firefighters sustained minor injuries in the incident.
"There may be some damage to our water and electricity infrastructure and surrounding areas may be affected,” the municipality said.
Koch’s friend and spokesperson for SA Long-distance Truckers, Bruce Little, said Koch was on his way to pick up employees when the incident occurred.
“The bakkie blew up and landed on its roof. Koch managed to crawl from the wreckage before sustaining further injuries. He is recovering in hospital now,” said Little.
Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning MEC Anton Bredell said the tanker was transporting liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), and the situation report indicated that the driver of the tanker reversed into a lamp pole, causing damage to the tank, releasing a cloud of vapour.
“A civilian bakkie drove through the cloud, causing a fire and the explosion. The driver of the bakkie sustained some burn wounds.
“The good thing was that this incident occurred at a time of day when there was little traffic and few people around,” said Bredell.
Bredell added that five buildings, as well as the tanker and bakkie, were “completely destroyed and another four buildings have been partially destroyed”.
There also appeared to be some damage to the town’s water mains and electricity infrastructure in the immediate vicinity, he said.
ER24 spokesperson Russel Meiring said emergency services responded just after 6am. Local fire services were already on the scene.
“A large tanker truck carrying an unknown chemical was found in the intersection, well alight. Breede Fire Services battled the blaze while paramedics tended to two patients.
“Assessments showed that both patients had sustained minor to moderate injuries.
“The patients were treated at the scene and thereafter transported to Mediclinic in Worcester for further treatment,” Meiring said.