Africa South Africa Southern Africa World 

South Africa’s suspected gas leak deaths linked to illegal mining

South African authorities have said a suspected leak of poisonous gas in the shantytown of Boksburg, east of Johannesburg could be linked to illegal mining.

The death toll from the accident has now risen to 17 as of Thursday, according to officials who have visited the site of the accident.

Gauteng Province Premier Panyaza Lesufi, told journalists investigations are still ongoing to determine how the cylinder in which the unidentified toxic gas was stored led to the leakage.

The victims include women and children who died from gas inhalation.

Emergency service officials say the victims were found within a 100m (328ft) radius of the scene.

– Advertisement –

No one was taken to hospital. But there are fears that the death toll could rise as search and rescue teams continue their work.

“Search and rescue operations are continuing on the scene as we search for more possible bodies,” an emergency official explained.

One of the gas cylinders was found leaking in Boksburg’s densely populated, Angelo shanty town.

William Ntladi, spokesperson for the Disaster and Emergency Management Services in the City of Ekurhuleni, has said that there was no explosion, contrary to widespread reports.

“We received a call about a gas explosion, but upon arrival, we found that a nitrate oxide cylinder had leaked, leading to inhalation poisoning among the people in and around the Angelo informal settlement”, he told journalists.

The role of illegal mining

Illegal gold miners known locally as zama zamas use the nitrate oxide to extract gold from soil stolen from abandoned mine shafts.

It is alleged that nitrate oxide [sic] leaked from a cylinder and poisoned the community of Angelo informal settlement in Boksburg,” Ntladi said.

“As per information on site, illegal mining activities were ongoing using nitrate oxide to extract what is said to be gold from the soil within the informal settlement.”

Some locals told Reuters that their family members were dying while trying to escape the scene of the gas leak on Wednesday.

“I bumped into my cousin walking and crying and I asked him what’s wrong. He told me that all his kids had died,” Felsa Nhamussa, who also lost her brother-in-law was quoted as saying.

“When I woke up this morning, I came back to check what the situation is like, they told me that my brother-in-law was running away trying to escape and he fell and died.”

Six months ago a gas tanker explosion killed 41 people in the same community. In May this year also a methane gas explosion in an abandoned mine also killed at least 31 people believed to be from neighbouring Lesotho.

The role of gas as an enabler of the energy transition

Sourced from Africa Feeds

Related posts