Transnet shuts major fuel pipeline after fire, three killed near Durban

The blaze was caused by a botched fuel theft attempt outside Durban in the early hours of the morning.

Flames and smoke billow from the site of a petrol tanker that caught fire in Clairwood Industrial Park and ignited a secondary fire in the Transnet Pipe, in Durban, on 31 October 2021. Picture: MARCO LONGARI/AFP

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's state logistics firm Transnet on Sunday temporarily closed its fuel pipeline in the eastern city of Durban after a fire broke out nearby, killing at least three people, the company said.

The blaze was caused by a botched fuel theft attempt outside Durban in the early hours of the morning.

Transnet Pipelines' operations centre "immediately shut down the pipeline and activated the emergency response plan", it said in a statement, adding that investigations were ongoing.

"The current focus is to extinguish the fire and minimise the impact on the community and the environment," it said, noting that three people had died in the incident.

Transnet Pipelines is a division of Transnet and a custodian of a 3,800-kilometre (2,360-mile) petroleum and gas pipeline network connecting Durban to South Africa's most populous Gauteng province, home to its economic hub Johannesburg.

A company spokesperson told AFP the impact of the fire and ensuing pipe shutdown would be assessed once the blaze was extinguished.

Transnet said fuel thefts at its pipelines and surrounding infrastructure have soared over the past two years, adding that the incidents have damaged assets and the environment as well as causing serious injuries and fatalities.

"We continue to work with law enforcement agencies to stop this criminal activity and keep the pipelines and surrounding communities safe," it said.

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