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South Africa: One dead, 48 injured after suspected gas explosion in Johannesburg

Emergency services gather at the scene of a gas explosion downtown   -  
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Shiraaz Mohamed/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.

South Africa

An unexplained explosion ripped through central Johannesburg during rush hour Wednesday, tearing through a main road and injuring 41 people, South African officials said.

Emergency services initially blamed underground gas pipes, but the Egoli Gas company said it was "unlikely" the explosion -- which cracked tarmac and overturned vehicles including minibus taxis -- "was caused by a gas pipeline or leak".

"Our network has experienced no pressure loss which indicates the gas pipelines are intact. Our customers in the area continue to receive gas uninterrupted," the company said in a statement.

"It's a miracle there are no fatalities," said Panyaza Lesufi, the provincial Premier of Gauteng, which includes Johannesburg and Pretoria.

Forty-one people were injured, including two in a critical condition, nine seriously injured and 30 with minor injuries, according to Lesufi.

He said a preliminary investigation did not reveal the cause of the blast.

"(The) situation is completely under control," he said.

Experts would "get the full view and advise us", he said.

"The damage is extensive. It's a bad situation... It was peak time."

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