THERE was an explosion on Friday morning at Engen’s oil refinery in Durban, a Durban metropolitan police official told Reuters, adding that police had not yet received reports about whether there had been injuries or deaths.
An Engen spokesman told Reuters he would comment later in a statement. According to Engen’s website, the Durban refinery has a crude refining capacity of 120,000 barrels per day.
It is the second-largest crude refinery in South Africa.
A video has been circulating on social media networks since just after 7:00 on Friday morning showing a large fire within the refinery precinct.
Residents from Wentworth and surrounding areas have also taken to social media to confirm hearing a loud explosion.
KwaZulu-Natal Emergency Medical Services officer, Robert McKenzie says the cause of the blast is not yet known.
“The exact cause of the fire or explosion is not known at this stage. We do know that after 7am this morning there was an explosion at the refinery resulting in a fire and big smoke which rose quite high,” he said.
Flats across the road from the refinery are reportedly being evacuated.
Emergency services are on the scene.
The KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government has dispatched disaster management and emergency teams to the Engen Refinery in Merebank, south of Durban.
These teams which are from both the provincial government and the eThekwini municipality also include air quality, environmental management specialists and disaster teams.
Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs MEC, Ravi Pillay, is communicating with the Engen Leadership to facilitate the response.
The primary focus at this stage is on attending to the fire whose cause has not yet been established and to prevent any threat.