This morning, we are bracing ourselves for an explosion in our nearest Flemish town, Halle, about ten kilometres down the road.
It’s not the Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde issue that’s about to take a violent turn, I must add, but a huge gas leak combined with an equally huge water leak, a combination which is potentially explosive, we have been told. I do not doubt the truth in this after hearing Halle’s mayor being interviewed on the radio this morning; his voice was audibly trembling as he announced the emergency plans that had been launched.
Everybody is thinking of the 2004 gas explosion in Ghislenghien (try pronouncing that!), which isn’t all that far from here either, where 24 people died and 132 people were injured, including victims being burned on the parts of their bodies facing the town as they drove by on the motorway passing it with their windows open on what was a hot day already before the blast. I know the exact figures since another of this particular morning’s news stories in Belgium coincidentally happens to be about the ongoing trauma of those who witnessed that event, three and a half years afterwards.
(By the way, we have a gas heater which heats both our home and our hot water. We should have had it inspected long time ago. Oh, bother.)
The thing about both the Halle and the Ghislenghien incidents is that in both cases, the gas pipes leaked after being damaged by excavators. They are building a new apartment block down on the corner of our street… a task that includes the use of excavators.