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Technician arrested in Jerusalem gas explosion released from custody

January 21, 2014 19:03

Investigation determines separate technicians came to the apartment on 2 occasions within 3 hours.

Jerusalem gas explosion, January 20, 2014.

Jerusalem gas explosion, January 20, 2014.. (photo credit:MAGEN DAVID ADOM)

The Supergas technician arrested for alleged negligence following the deadly Monday gas explosion in a Gilo apartment that killed a family of three, was ordered by a judge to be released from police custody Tuesday night.

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Avraham and Galit Tufan, ages 56 and 42 respectively, and their two-year-old son, Yosef Haim, were killed instantly Monday in their third-floor apartment by the 1:30 a.m. blast. The family was buried in a private ceremony Tuesday.

Although it was previously reported that the same technician came both times, Jerusalem District Judge Raphael Carmel determined that the technician arrested was the second attendant to come to the home, a court official said Tuesday.

According to Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, the Tufan’s called Supergas at 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. to report the smell of gas in their apartment.

During the first visit, a technician shut off a valve in the apartment that he suspected of causing the leak.

“However, as a result of closing one of the pipes, the gas continued to leak into their neighbor’s apartment,” Rosenfeld said Tuesday.

Despite the arrested technician’s assertion that the problem in the Tufan’s apartment was resolved, several minutes after he left, the neighbor’s gas canister exploded. The force of the blast went directly into the victims’ apartment.

The technician’s attorney, Yehuda Shoshan, told IDF Radio Tuesday that the man did not leave the apartment until he believed the problem had been resolved, and should not be held accountable for the tragedy.

“What do people expect of a technician?” Shoshan said during the interview. “Do they want him to check apartment after apartment in a block that is almost a kilometer long, with dozens of entrances? That is not reasonable.”

Upon agreeing to the technician’s release, Carmel ordered that he stay away from the site of the explosion and not communicate with any colleagues from Supergas for one week, while police continue their investigation.

To aid area residents, the Jerusalem Municipality established an information center for those whose homes were damaged, and it continues to assist displaced families by providing free hotel rooms and additional welfare services.

Following the blast, municipal engineering teams undertook exhaustive testing to ensure the safety and soundness of the enormous four-story apartment complex.

Meanwhile, over 100 families of the apartment complex are scheduled to meet with attorneys Tuesday night at an area community center to discuss the viability of a class-action lawsuit against Supergas for negligence.

“It is important to understand that there are people who have lost their loved ones,” Yaffa Sheetrit of the Gilo Community Administration told Israel National News Tuesday.

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