JOHANNESBURG ( Associated Press) – The death toll from the Christmas Eve tanker truck explosion near eastern Johannesburg has risen to 34, including 10 health workers at a nearby hospital, officials said.
The truck was carrying gas when it got stuck under a low bridge in the town of Boksburg, causing a fire. According to emergency services, the tanker truck exploded while firefighters were trying to douse it.
According to officials, a “firebomb” that exploded at Tambo Memorial Hospital, located about 100 meters (110 yd) away, significantly damaged it. Many medical workers were in the hospital parking lot, some about to leave after their shifts and others trying to move their cars away from the fire.
Health Minister Joe Fahla said that in addition to the fatalities, the hospital’s emergency unit and X-ray department were severely damaged.
Others who died were residents who had gathered to watch the burning truck. At least 321 injured were transferred to the disaster hospital, although some were later transferred to others in the Johannesburg area.
According to officials, several houses and vehicles were also damaged in the blast.
“A ball of fire in the sky,” resident Rolf Björnstad described the explosion to the South African website News24.
“It was hot in the house. I thought about my wife, my children and helping those affected.”