Several residents of eMalahleni in Mpumalanga had to be evacuated from their homes in the early hours of Monday morning after ammonia was leaked into drains and the air following a collision involving three trucks and a car.
According to Mpumalanga Department of Community Safety, Security and Liaison spokesperson Moeti Mmusi, the crash happened just after midnight and led to ammonia spillage with an odour so strong that residents near Tasbet Park and Uthingo Park Village were severely affected.
“The scene had to be taken over by the disaster management and it took some time before the traffic law enforcement officers could reach the scene due to the strong smell,” Mmusi said.
Local newspaper Witbank News reported that residents had to be evacuated from their homes and taken to the police station, Reyno Ridge Shopping Centre and the Pick n Pay in Watermeyer Street.
Emergency services personnel – including fire and rescue, ambulances, disaster management, law enforcement and the police – were reportedly on the scene. It was decided to evacuate the residents as a precautionary measure to a temporary medical facility, where they were reportedly treated for respiratory and inhalation problems.
Mmusi said a preliminary investigation suggested that the side-swipe crash occurred when one of the trucks was attempting to overtake another truck.
“The third truck involved collided into one of the trucks. A sedan was also involved. One of the trucks was transporting energy drinks. The ammonia was leaked into the drain and this subsequently affected households and many residents woke up to the unbearable smell.”
According to Mmusi, no injuries had been reported, but the occupants of the sedan had received treatment for the effects of ammonia inhalation.
Community Safety, Security and Liaison MEC Gabisile Tshabalala visited the scene early on Monday.
Tshabalala called on truck drivers to always ensure that they drive safely.
“Truck drivers and all those involved in the trucking business must play their part towards road safety by… ensuring drivers rest sufficiently along the way,” she said.
The executive mayor of the Emalahleni Local Municipality, Lina Malatji, arranged transport for residents who were left stranded because of the incident.