My ears still hurt - Welkom resident describes blast

2015-03-23 08:24
Smoke billows into the air after the explosion. (Welkom City via Facebook)

Smoke billows into the air after the explosion. (Welkom City via Facebook)

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Welkom - Residents of Welkom have described how a methane explosion on Saturday sounded like a bomb attack and damaged about 200 homes and several other buildings.

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The hand of God was over Welkom at the time, residents told Netwerk24's Marti Will, as miraculously nobody was seriously injured.

The explosion took place at about 17:30 on Saturday when contractors bulldozed rubble into a disused ventilation shaft at the President Brand mine as part of a rehabilitation ­programme for the mine.


A spark created by the falling ­debris ignited methane gas in the shaft and the resulting explosion ­and shockwave was felt in neighbouring towns such as Virginia, Sasolburg and Parys. A traffic officer reported feeling the shock some 50km away near Kroonstad.

Residents said they saw heavy concrete manhole covers shoot high into the air.

Others described how roof tiles were dislodged, ceilings fell down, glass doors and windows shattered, and outside walls collapsed.

One Welkom resident described how she froze when she heard the explosion, and could immediately feel the shockwave. Her ears hurt for a long time afterwards, she said.

The explosion happened on the 25th anniversary of the destructive tornado that left two people dead, 98 injured, and more than 800 families without a roof.

(Emile Hendricks, Netwerk24)


The Matjhabeng ­Municipality set up a disaster management ­centre near the three suburbs that were most ­affected by the falling ­debris from the explosion. Harmony Gold started offering trauma counselling to the shocked residents.

Harmony Gold spokesperson Bobo Ndinisa said one of the contractors at the site was only slightly injured. A full investigation into the cause of the explosion has already begun.

Welkom residents can report damage to 057-9048414/5/6 or e-mail

Read more on:    harmony gold  |  bloemfontein

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