PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — For the first time, a woman provided what it was like to be inside when an explosion decimated rowhomes in South Philadelphia. The young woman survived, but her brother did not.
It’s been a week since the explosion, and the 1400 block of South 8th Street in South Philadelphia is still a mess.
As crews knocked down a home on the block, years of memories inside came down with it.
It’s now the fifth home destroyed by last week’s explosion, which sent a ball of fire into the sky.
Two people died in the explosion. Their families identified the victims as 28-year-old Brian Diu and 65-year-old Rudi Kambong.
“He’s like the jokester of the family,” 25-year-old Connie Diu said of her brother Brian.
Connie Diu was also inside the home when the explosion happened. The walls around her started to crack as windows from above shattered.
“I just started to panic. I had to get out. Everything happened so fast. The only ting I remember is the wall just grazed my back and I just jumped up really fast and I saw a lot of glass falling, and I thought it was an earthquake,” she said. “But once I turned around, I saw the whole house was collapsed.”
She was on the first floor and managed to escape. But at the time, she didn’t realize her brother was still inside the home.
Authorities later found his body buried underneath debris the following day.
“Since his phone went straight to voicemail, you kind of just think of the worst already,” she said. “I was just so shocked. I was just so numb. I didn’t know what to do.”
Now Diu wants to know who is going to be responsible for ultimately taking her brother’s life from their family too soon.
“What happened? We just want to know what happened. Brian lost his life,” she said. “He was only 28 years old. He had his whole life ahead of him. We just want answers. It’ll never be the same. But we’re trying to get through it and Brian wouldn’t want us to be too devastated.”
Kambong’s family says he couldn’t talk well after suffering a stroke a year ago and was on bed rest on the second floor of his home when it collapsed.
Officials still haven’t said what caused the ball of fire, but investigators believe it was “gas fed.”
Choi Funeral Home donated $5,000 to help pay for Diu’s funeral. If you’d like to donate, you can make a check payable to Diu’s mother, Sandy Luong, and mail it to the funeral home. More information on Diu’s services can be found here.
A fundraiser for Kambong’s family can be found here.