House of elderly woman, 2 grandkids caught fire after Engen refinery explosion
The explosion caused chaos in the Durban suburb of Merebank on Friday morning.
DURBAN – KwaZulu-Natal authorities on Friday confirmed at least one house caught alight following an explosion at an Engen refinery south of Durban.
An elderly woman and her two grandchildren were in the house at the time and they had to be hospitalised as a result. At least seven other people were being treated for minor to moderate injuries related to smoke inhalation.
The explosion caused chaos in the Durban suburb of Merebank in the morning.
Resident Michael van der Westhuizen told Eyewitness News about the dramatic events.
“We were woken up by a tremble. It sounded like a bomb or a plane that fell on a roof. But when we ran outside, we noticed big flames by the oil refinery and we were actually scared. We thought of running away in case something further happened,” he said.
PICS: Engen refinery explosion engulfed in flames and black & blue smoke
KZN Economic Development MEC Ravi Pillay said they were probing what went wrong.
“Our primary concern is to give assurance to the community that things are stable and there’s no immediate risk,” Pillay said.
Engen spokesperson Thandeka Cele said they would focus on preventing more incidents like this.
“Once we know what has happened, there will be action outcomes that will come out of that in terms of us then closing whatever gaps existed, and making sure that an incident like this doesn’t happen again,” Cele said.
The refinery was temporarily closed to allow investigators to do their work and ensure the site is safe.
ENGEN TO ASSIST AFFECTED FAMILIES
At the same time, Engen promised to assist all families affected by the massive explosion.
Some community members told Eyewitness News they were angry with Engen and accused the company of failing to address the health and safety concerns they had raised periodically.
“One of the challenges that we have had over the years is the issue of safety. We have raised this for decades that there is no evacuation plan in place,” said Frank Alexander, a resident of Merebank.