The local fire service and police investigation established that it was not due to explosives and that there was a piped LPG vapour supply in the building. This was a novel type of installation in that locality. Due to perceived conflicts of interest among national and local politicians, we were engaged by the Government to determine the origin, cause, mechanism and underlying reasons for the explosion.
With great assistance from the police and fire services, including detailed reconstruction and the supply of translators for witness statements, it was found that a recent refurbishment of the apartment had left a connection loose at the back of the gas cooking stove. The gas supply to the apartment was only turned on when the temporary resident moved in on the day before the incident. It accumulated in the apartment and spread into the corridor outside before being ignited by the resident operating a light switch.
Civil and Criminal Charges Laid
We found that the gas was able to build up undetected due to a problem in the addition of the ethyl mercaptan ‘stenching agent’ at the supply company facility, where imported liquid LPG was vaporised for distribution in gas form. As a result of our findings, certain criminal and civil charges were laid and the process was changed to avoid recurrence.