Australia--Blast,, Man Killed...Gas Leak Suspected : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

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Friday, 10 March, 2000

Man killed in Forrest blast


Rescue workers using arc lights continued a brick-by-brick search of rubble last night for more victims of a blast that ripped apart the old Manuka Football Club in Fitzroy Street, Forrest, taking the life of a young Canberra man.

Teams of police and fire brigade officers began their grisly task early yesterday after an explosion destroyed the former club house, structurally damaged nearby buildings and showered glass and debris around the immediate area.

Fears were still held late last night for a companion of the dead man, whom local business people say they had seen squatting inside the empty building for a few days.

The ACT Fire Brigade and Australian Federal Police cordoned off the area and began an urgent evacuation of nearby homes and offices. More than 50 people were evacuated from the adjacent motel, Telopea Inn on the Park.

Joint police and brigade search-and-rescue teams, using procedures refined at the Thredbo disaster, began sifting through the dangerous, unstable rubble and jagged masonry for evidence of any survivors and to try to find the cause of the blast, which occurred just after 1.15am.

Police found a car understood to belong to the dead man at the nearby Telopea High School, with some of his possessions inside.

However, the body, wedged underneath a pile of masonry, was not discovered until after 3pm and extricated by about 7pm after extensive site clearing.

Dozens of emergency service volunteers formed a human chain to manhandle rocks and chunks of concrete from the scene while police and fire rescue workers continued to search inside the ruins of the building.

A police investigation led by Detective Constable Tania Swift began at daybreak yesterday.

Coroner Peter Dingwall was advised once the body was found.

The officer in charge of the City Patrol, Superintendent Brian Hepworth, said the body was that of a man aged in his mid-20s.

It appeared he had died at the time of the explosion.

Superintendent Hepworth said firefighters and police had noticed a strong smell of gas when they arrived, and that gas was the most likely cause of the tragedy.

But how gas was piped into a building closed for more than a year was not known.

Nor were there any clues to what may have caused the gas to explode.

But he confirmed that the building had been destroyed by a blast strong enough to set off car alarms around the area and send streams of debris over nearby buildings.

' We are treating it as suspicious,' he said.

Superintendent Hepworth said locals had told police about other people squatting inside the building from time to time.

Fire Brigade Superintendent Darrell Thornthwaite said the first to the scene had used techniques learned at Thredbo to ' fall into the rubble' using a search pattern aimed at spotting survivors.

Early rescuers were only able to search about 80 per cent of the floor area.

The explosion appeared to have occurred under the floor, buckling it and destroying large sections.

He said the damage was consistent with a gas explosion. The use of other explosives would have left tell-tale traces of heat, and these had not been found.

' It doesn't appear to have been a volatile explosive,' he said.

But further searches had to await the arrival of heavy cranes to lift parts of the structure from the rubble.

The site was bought on March 1 for $1 million by a Canberra firm, Sneak Pty Ltd, from the former lessee, Enima Pty Ltd.

Sneak's company directors are Gail and Graham Potts, and the directors of Enima are Garry O'Donnell and Michael Kouper.

A firm of architects, Bryan Dowling and Associates, lodged an application on Wednesday on behalf of Mr and Mrs Potts to demolish the building and clear the site.

Work is understood to have been planned to start next week. The site is not heritage listed.

Local residents and business people told how they had believed the former club had been allowed to fall into disrepair.

One said he had seen vermin coming from the building. Others said squatters had been using it for some time.

Michael Capezio, of the firm Bates and Pickering, said his adjacent company office had been badly damaged by the force of the blast.


-- (, March 09, 2000


You sure have to wonder about all these pipeline explosions. A good example is the four recent blasts in Washington, D.C., complete with flying manhole covers. Add in the some nine oil pipeline explosions in the Western Hemisphere since the first of the year, and all the water pipeline ruptures--so bad that the number reached five in one day last month in the U.S. For the most part these are all SCADA-operated systems, vulnerable at the valves and joints. It just doesn't take much mismanagement of pressure to blow.

Y2K-related? To me, it's quite clear.

-- Uncle Fred (, March 09, 2000.

Uncle Fred,

Thanks for your input. I am hoping to get more information on this story to add to the thread.

Regards, Dee

-- Dee360Degree (, March 09, 2000.

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