An explosion rocked the tiny community of Welkom on Saturday evening after what initially appeared to be an explosion of the Eskom Substation in the Free State, it has been reported in the media. According to News 24, the explosion which happened at about 5:30 pm had a huge column of smoke billowing in the air against the background of the small town. According to many residents of the town who took to the various platforms of social media to share the information, the explosion was very loud and could be felt many kilometres away. In addition, several cars and houses in the vicinity were affected by the explosion. This was confirmed by a local radio station, OFM Radio which stated that the explosion had had an effect over much of the town. They said in their report that the blast had damaged many cars and homes and had been felt many kilometres away.
An initial statement by the spokesperson for the South African Police Services, Constable Ketabile Mofokeng said that the Eskom substation which is behind the traffic department had ‘blown up’. However, in a later statement, Constable Mofokeng made an about turn and said that the explosion had in fact been a methane explosion in a mine shaft which is close to the Eskom substation, which would explain the error they had made in their initial statement. This version of events tallies with the statement that had been made by Pastor Ndumiso Mazibuko, who said on Twitter that the blast had been caused by a methane explosion.
There was initially no source of information about the reason for the explosion but there was speculation that it may have been caused by iron and cement which had been used to cordon off the mine. These are thought to have supplied the spark needed by the methane in order to ignite the explosion.