Residents in Worcester, Western Cape awoke to a fireball in the sky on Wednesday, after a petrol tanker exploded in the town’s industrial district. Miraculously, there have been no deaths to report – although three people have been injured by the inferno, including two firefighters.
The explosion was felt from miles away, as a fiery plume of smoke lit up the dark morning skies. Buildings were shaken and the air filled with flames. Emergency response teams and representatives of local government have since been to survey the scene and confirmed what caused the blast.
Worcester explosion after math. Not pretty. pic.twitter.com/WMURGXleJ9
— Boerelegioen (@Boerelegioen2) July 10, 2019
What caused the Worcester explosion?
It was reported earlier that the tanker had overturned, but this has since been debunked. Anton Bredell is The Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, and he explained that the vehicle had reversed into a lamp pole, causing damage to the tanker.
The lorry was carrying liquified petroleum gas (LPG) in its cargo, sparking the devastation. As the LPG formed a vapour cloud, the fire was then ignited by a civilian bakkie driving through it, engulfing the area in flames. The motorist is currently in ICU for treatment to his burns.
“The Breede Valley Fire Department responded immediately and were on the scene within minutes. Three injuries have been reported, two firefighters with minor injuries and a civilian with burn injuries who has been admitted to the ICU. Thankfully, this incident occurred at a time of day when there was little traffic and few people around.”
Damage caused by the Worcester explosion
Meanwhile, the extent of the damage became even clearer during the light of day. Several structures in Worcester’s industrial area – which sits about 120km north-east of Cape Town – have been completely gutted, but it’s not just buildings that were in the firing line:
- In total, five separate buildings have been “completely destroyed”.
- The tanker and the bakkie have also been torched.
- Four buildings were “partially destroyed”.
- A number of water mains and electricity stations have incurred some substantial damage.
“End of days” stuff
The situation is now fully under control, but fire crews are continuing to dampen down the area as they attempt to completely quell the remaining few embers of the blaze.
A slew of videos were uploaded to social media during Wednesday morning, with many clips not looking out of place in a Hollywood disaster movie. Thankfully, due to the timing of the incident, the disaster had a minimal human cost. But the blast was scary enough to make motorists take a u-turn in the road:
(Video supplied by Belgie Steyn)