Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi says specialist investigators who are probing the Joburg CBD explosion have identified three manholes as areas of interest to determine what caused the violent explosion on Wednesday afternoon.
Companies and public entities with underground pipeline infrastructure in the Joburg CBD have all reported to the operational command centre that their systems were functioning optimally.
These include Egoli Gas,Telkom, Eskom, City Power, Joburg Water - who have sewer and water pipelines and Sasol, to name a few.
Lesufi said a team of experts from the Department of Labour was called in to assess and they had provided a preliminary report which showed that there were three manholes of interest and they believed that the Joburg CBD explosion was similar to the 2010 Telkom Towers explosion in Hillbrow.
According to a Telkom statement issued in January 2010, they initially believed a municipal transformer at Telkom’s exchange in Yeoville, exploded, injuring two people at the time.
Telkom at the time said a small segment of their voice, data and DSL customers in the Yeoville area was impacted.
Pictures of the devastation caused back then can be seen here.
It later turned out that the explosion was in fact caused by a gas leak, causing substantial damage.
A report by The Star at the time said: “The roof of the building was damaged, the front wall was blown out and the cast-iron manhole cover was tossed over the Word of Life Assembly Church across the road, and landed on the pavement in nearby Kenmere Road”.
Lesufi said the officials from the Department of Labour would approach three unnamed institutions to get answers.
“The preliminary investigation shows that the nature of gas when it explodes, is similar to what happened at Yeoville at the Telkom Towers.
“There were three manholes that are an interest to their investigation. The explosion came through those manholes.
“They are of the view that there are certain institutions that they want to interview further. We have granted them that permission to go and interview those institutions as quickly as possibly,” said Lesufi.
Earlier, Lesufi announced that police have been instructed to erect barbed wire fencing around the Joburg explosion ‘crime scene’.
He said the 34 vehicles which had been damaged during the explosion had also been removed from the scene and returned to their owners for them to process their insurance claims where applicable.
Lesufi also said the removal of the cars would assist in ensuring less traffic to the area as it was a sight for onlookers.
Police and JMPD officers have had their hands full in the Joburg CBD as onlookers continued to rush to the scene in the hope of getting a closer look after the explosion sent shockwaves on Wednesday night.
One person has died, two people are in a critical condition and a total of eight people are still hospitalised.
The official cause of the explosion remains unknown.
A technical media briefing is expected at 8pm.