UPDATE: The death toll following a gas leak in Boksburg has climbed to 17. One person died in hospital this morning. 15 others remain hospitalized.
8 men, 5 women and 3 children have died, after a gas cylinder containing nitrate oxide leaked, at an informal settlement in Boksburg. The incident happened in the Angelo Informal Settlement, late last night. 16 others have been admitted to the Tambo Memorial Hospital, with 4 of them in a critical condition.
The incident comes 6 months after a gas tanker explosion in Boksburg, on Christmas Eve, which claimed the lives of 41 people and left dozens injured.
Ekhurhuleni Emergency Services Spokesperson William Ntladi was at the scene. He says the highly toxic gas was used to extrapolate gold out of the soil during illegal mining activities that took place within the informal settlement:
“The cylinder that was found, was found near one of the shacks, and they are built close to each other. With nitrate oxide leaking, we know the volatility and the lethalness of this gas,” said Ntladi.
It’s believed the majority of victims were sleeping, making it impossible for them to escape in time. Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi also rushed to the scene, when news of the incident came to light:
“Sixteen is the verified number (of deaths). The team has assured me that they have done a recount. It’s not a nice scene at all, it’s not a nice scene. It’s painful, emotionally draining and tragic,” said Lesufi.
The Police’s Colonel Dimakatso Nevhuhulwi says authorities are probing the matter: “The police have opened an inquest docket for further investigations, to determine the cause,” says Nevhuhulwi.