Worcester gas explosion victim recovering from burn wounds in hospital

2019-07-11 14:10
Bennie Koch. (Supplied)

Bennie Koch. (Supplied)

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A man who was injured when a gas tanker exploded in Worcester is recovering in hospital after sustaining burn wounds.

Bennie Koch, 63, a logistics manager for Moreson Earthmovers, was driving through town on Wednesday morning when he was caught in the blast.

His company's director, Alwyn Visser, previously told News24 that the explosion turned his vehicle over and he crept out.

Klaas de Vos, an employee at Raimondi's Wholesalers in Worcester, heard Koch's cries for help and helped him get away from the vehicle so he could receive medical assistance.

The SA Long-Distance Truckers group told News24 that Koch, who had worked as a trucker in the past, had been driving by at the time and that his vehicle was "obliterated".

They said that he was recovering after he was wheeled out of theatre around 19:00 on Wednesday. He apparently had severe burn wounds on his hands and back.

Koch's wife Elmien, a nurse, told Maroela Media, that doctors had to assess how serious his wounds were and if he needed a skin graft.

READ: 'We are lucky to be alive' - eyewitness recalls moments before Worcester gas explosion

She reportedly said that her husband had gone to pick up a colleague and she did not know he was affected by the explosion when she first heard the blast. 

The explosion happened around 06:00, injuring Koch and two firefighters. They had been attending to an initial fire after a gas tanker reversed into a lamp pole. Five buildings were completely destroyed and another four were partially destroyed.

Theo Botha, the chief fire officer for the Breede Valley Fire and Rescue Services, said the driver of the tanker was inside the vehicle but managed to evacuate before the explosion took place.

"As far as I know, he was not injured."

Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning MEC Anton Bredell said that the situation report indicated that the driver of the tanker had reversed into a lamp pole, causing damage to the tank, releasing a vapour cloud. 

"A civilian bakkie drove through the cloud, causing a fire and the explosion. The driver of the bakkie is the civilian currently in ICU with some burn wounds," said Bredell.

"The good thing was that this incident occurred at a time of day when there was little traffic and few people around."

Western Cape police said on Thursday that cases of malicious damage to property and reckless and negligent driving were being investigated.

No arrests have been made.

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