Flashback Friday photos | Two die in 1995 Kogarah shopping centre gas explosions

TWO people were killed and 11 injured when a series of gas explosions rocked the Kogarah shopping strip in 1995.

The blasts occurred in the shopping centre, near the railway station steps, three weeks before Christmas.

It was a Monday afternoon, and the Tuesday edition of the Leader was about to go to press.

A team of reporters and photographers was quickly on the scene, and the paper appeared the next morning with comprehensive coverage.

‘‘Kogarah was gripped in a full scale emergency as police sealed off the town, and blocked off all traffic including the trains,’’ the front page read.

‘‘Fire raged underground and in Railway Parade as Australian Gas Light experts prepared to shut off all four gas lines serving Kogarah.’’

At 3.45pm, when the situation appeared to be in hand, there was another explosion.

Several years later, the NSW Industrial Relations Commission imposed record cumulative fines totalling $1.5 million on construction company Abigroup, but the penalty was reduced to $1.1 million on appeal.

Commission documents stated Abigroup had been upgrading the railway station, which included the demolition of the station entrance and four shops.

Gas company, AGL, had disconnected the gas line to the four shops on Railway Parade, but part of the charged line remained within the construction zone.

An excavating machine disturbed the live gas line, causing a leak, which ignited.

Mina Bakhoum, 19, of Bexley, and Gregory Maybury, 33, of Guildford, were injured in the explosion and died later in hospital.

After the initial explosion at 2pm, the fire burnt for more than two hours while efforts were made to find the leak.

About 4pm, there was a second explosion.

Those injured, some seriously, included members of the public, shop workers and police and fire brigade officers, who had responded to the emergency.

AGL was fined $325,000 over its botched response.

The commission heard the AGL work crew, which was dispatched to the scene after the first blast, failed to take with them a map needed to to find and shut down escaping gas.

FLASHBACK FRIDAY

Every Friday we delve into the Leader archives to embark on some time travel.

We will bring you photographs of a news event from 57 years of Leader news coverage that you may or may not recall.

Flashback Friday submissions are also welcomed.

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