Three South African Defence Force (SANDF) members have been confirmed dead after helping six contract workers in a freak accident on Bayhead Road in the Port of Durban on Friday.
The three men according to SANDF, died in a “freak accident” at the army’s naval base in Durban, after trying to rescue three contract workers screaming for help at the bottom of a sewage pit after a gas leak.
“The workers said there was a gas leakage,” said Brigadier-General Mafi Mgobozi who also revealed that contract workers from the Department of Public Works were working in the sewage pit at the naval base. Then suddenly came screams for help from the contractors.
He said three SANDF members who heard the cries went down the sewage pit to help but they were overcome by the gas fumes. All six men died while 26 others were injured.
“We want to send our deepest condolences to the families of our members and those of the contractors that were working at the sewage pit.” Mgobozi said, adding that the army was still in the process of determining what type of gas had leaked.
Paul Herbst from IPSS confirmed the six deaths and said 26 others who had minor injuries have been referred to a medical center for proper treatment.
Paramedics also said the scene where the incident occurred is now being handled by the South African Police Service and naval authorities.
KwaZulu-Natal emergency medical services spokesperson Robert McKenzie confirmed the incident but said he could not comment because it happened on a military base.
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This incident happens at the time the defence force is preparing for its Armed Forces Day scheduled to hold next week in Durban city.
The Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry said businesses should take note of the expected disruptions as the city prepares for the Armed Forces Day parade on Tuesday.
Road closures on Tuesday include:
• Umgeni Road south-bound from Smiso Nkwanyana Road (Goble) to KE Masinga Road (Old Fort) from 05:00 to 12:00. The road closures are due to the procession of the military hardware convoy during the parade on Umgeni Road. The convoy will salute the president.
• Umgeni Road south-bound (coming into town) will be closed from Smiso Nkwanyana Road (Goble) between 05:00 and 13:00.
• Masabalala Yengwa Avenue (MNR) will be closed from Athlone Drive at Blue Lagoon Engen Garage between 08:00 and 15:00.
• Masabalala Yengwa Avenue (MNR) going out of town will be closed from Sandile Thusi Road (Argyle) to Smiso Nkwanyana Road (Goble) from 05:00 to 13:00.
• Sandile Thusi Road (Argyle) will be closed between 10:00 and 12:00.
• Access to Isaiah Ntshangase Road (Walter Gilbert) will be via Umgeni Road north-bound until 10:00 and closed until 12:00.
Motorists not coming to watch the parade on Tuesday have been urged to use alternative routes, while those coming to watch the parade can park along the beachfront and walk to the Moses Mabhida Stadium precinct.