Three children among 16 dead after gas leak in South Africa shanty town

6 July 2023, 05:46

The gas leak killed 16 people
The gas leak killed 16 people. Picture: Getty/Vision Tactical

By Kit Heren

At least 16 people, including three children have died from a gas leak in South Africa thought to have been caused by illegal gold miners.

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The leak of toxic nitrate gas took place on Wednesday night in the Angelo informal settlement in Boksburg, a city close to Johannesburg known for its gold mines.

Police said the three children killed were aged one, six and 15. As well as the dead, two people were rushed to hospital for treatment.

Emergency services spokesperson William Ntladi said a nitrate gas cylinder being kept in a shack had leaked.

Authorities believed it was being used by illegal miners to separate gold from dirt and rock.

Read more: One dead and three in hospital after Swansea house destroyed in ‘gas blast’

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Authorities on the scene of the gas leak
Authorities on the scene of the gas leak. Picture: Getty

Authorities did not say if the illegal miners they believed to be responsible for the gas leak were among the casualties.

Gauteng Province premier Panyaza Lesufi tweeted videos of the dusty inside of a shack where at least four gas cylinders can be seen on metal stands with what he said was the cylinder responsible for the leak lying on the floor next to the entrance.

Illegal mining is rife in the gold-rich areas around Johannesburg, where miners go into closed off and disused mines to search for any deposits left over.

On Christmas Eve, 41 people died in Boksburg after a truck carrying liquefied petroleum gas got stuck under a bridge and exploded.

Emergency services initially announced as many as 24 people might be dead in an informal settlement in Boksburg, a city on the eastern outskirts of Johannesburg, but police and Gauteng Province premier Panyaza Lesufi said the number of deaths had been confirmed as 16 after a recount of the bodies.

Teams were still searching for other casualties with the bodies of the victims lying on the ground hours after the leak was reported as emergency services waited for forensic investigators and pathologists.

Mr Ntladi said: "We can't move anybody. The bodies are still where they are on the ground."

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