Jerusalem: Young Couple & Infant Killed in Gas Explosion [UPDATED 09:06 IL]



It appears the negligence of a gas company technician may have resulted in a fatal explosion in the Gilo area of Yerushalayim during the night, Sunday to Monday 19 Shevat 5774. When neighbors first heard the powerful blast they thought it was a terror attack. At least seven other people were injured in the explosion, one in serious condition, one moderate and the remainder light.

A preliminary investigation of the scene by police indicates a gas company technician summoned to repair a gas leak did not complete his work, leading to the fatal blast. The tech told neighbors that he was not able to completely repair the leak, promising to return the following day. The explosion occurred hours later. The gas company technician has been detained by police.

Police add the integrity of the three-story structure has been compromised and they fear it may collapse. There is also significant damage to buildings and cars in the area. One eyewitness is quoted by Walla News explaining “it looks like a terror attack site”. Cars parked tens of meters away were lifted into the air and glass in homes in the area was shattered by the powerful explosion.

Magen David Adom Jerusalem Commander Shlomo Petrover reports receiving calls close to 1:00 AM and a few minutes later calls began coming in or a reported explosion on Shabtai Hanegbi Street. Hundreds of calls were received by MDA, fire and police dispatchers. 12 ambulances were dispatched to the scene as they began combing the apartments in the area. The two-year-old infant was transported to the hospital in critical condition but did not survive. The bodies of the young couple were found at the scene. It appears three apartments sustained the heaviest damage.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat commented on the tragedy and stated at this stage, making sure there are no addition victims is the priority. Those who are now homeless will be given temporary shelter, the mayor promises. He estimated there are 20 apartments that have been damaged to the point they cannot be used.

09:06 IL: One of the victims listed in moderate condition earlier is now listed in “very serious” condition in Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital.

The gas company technician remains in custody and police plan to bring him before a remand hearing later in the day.

The technician arrived to check reports of a gas odor at about 22:00. He only partially addressed the problem, which neighbors report is a reoccurring issue. The explosion occurred shortly before 01:00. It appears the technician closed the incorrect valve, believing he was shutting off the gas flow.

In the case of this house, police report there is a central gas system, not the older individual gas cylinders placed at each apartment.


(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem / Photo: Jerusalem Fire & Rescue)