An investigation is underway to determine the cause of an explosion at one of the diesel fuel storage tanks on the wharf at Matautu-tai yesterday.
The explosion killed an employee of Petroleum Products Supplies Limited (P.P.S) who was working on the storage tank during the time of the explosion.
Another employee of the company was hospitalised and has been discharged.
The blaze yesterday caused widespread panic throughout the Apia township where workers, visitors and students were evacuated.
The fire also kicked the Disaster Advisory Committee (D.A.C) into action, calling in their private and public sector members.
As of last night, the Chairman of the Disaster Advisory Committee, Suluimalo Amataga Penaia, said the fire had been contained.
He confirmed the casualty and said that several others that responded - including firefighters – were treated at the hospital for injuries.
“Isolation work has been done and we are not expecting anything further (explosion),” said Suluimalo.
The Chairman, who is also the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, said about 1,000 tons of fuel was in the tank.
From what was reported to him, Suluimalo said maintenance work at the tanks is suspected to have sparked the explosion.
He added that they were doing welding works and that is how the fire started.
“Others like firefighters were affected by the heat of the fire and had inhaled fumes and gases,” explained Suluimalo.
“They are at the hospital. The one who died fell from the top where the explosion started.”
The Chairman said all members of the Emergency response team, including Health, Police and the Fire services responded quickly.
The Police and Land and Transport Authority were responsible for manning the perimeter of the area in Matautu where everyone was evacuated from.
Suluimalo pointed out that his team was responsible for communicating with neighbouring countries in terms of assistance such as helicopters and experts in different fields.
As for the investigation, he said “Only when the tank cools down that we can start, in case it lights up again.
“It was lucky that the tanks contain diesel otherwise it would’ve been difficult to fight if it was petrol.”
The Chairman said foam from the Airport’s fire trucks was used. Sea water was also used.
The Director of the Ministry of Health, Leausa Dr. Take Naseri, said the health sector was prepared for the worst.
“The National Health Service was warned to expect casualties from the fire and prepare for the worst,” he said.
Following the explosion nearby schools in town closed down and government workers left within hours.