Investigators probe mall explosion

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Pretoria - An investigation into the exact cause of Tuesday's explosion at the Bloed Street Mall is underway.

Seven people were injured when a gas supply exploded at a fast food outlet on Tuesday afternoon.

The two people who were seriously injured were rushed to the Steve Biko Academic Hospital with burns and cuts, while the other five were taken to the Tshwane District Hospital.

One of the seriously injured people was an employee at Barcelos while the other was a gas technician. Of the other five who sustained minor injuries, one was a customer, another a technician, while the other three were standing outside the shop.

Tshwane Community Safety Department spokesperson Console Tleane said investigators from the Tshwane Fire Brigade and the South African Police Services are carrying out a joint investigation into exactly what happened.

He said while the exact cause of the explosion is not known the information available at the moment is that two technicians were working on the gas supply inside the fast food outlet.

"Preliminary indications from the Tshwane Fire Brigade are that there might have been a gas leak before the explosion. The gas supply on the part of the complex where the explosion occurred is shared," he said.

Besides the Barcelos outlet where the explosion happened, the other two outlets - a Chicken Licken and a Fish and Chips outlet - were also affected, albeit slightly. He said up to 80 percent of Barcelos was damaged.

The explosion, which occurred about 3:30pm, caused major traffic jams in the city centre as it was rush hour.

The Tshwane Metro Police had their hands full controlling the traffic. Bloed Street - between Prinsloo and Van Der Walt streets - was closed between 3:30pm and 5:15pm.