Fatal Nitrate Gas Leak in South Africa Claims 16 Lives Including 3 Children, States Police

by Sophia Chen
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toxic gas leak

South African police and local officials reported late Wednesday that a deadly toxic nitrate gas leak resulted in the loss of at least 16 lives, three of which were children, within a residential area of tightly clustered metal shacks. The gas was illegally utilized by miners in the gold extraction process.

Emergency services initially speculated a potential death toll of 24 within the Angelo settlement, located in Boksburg on Johannesburg’s eastern outskirts. However, subsequent confirmation by police and Panyaza Lesufi, Premier of Gauteng Province, established the casualty count to be 16 following a recount.

A visibly affected Lesufi, after visiting the site, described the scene as “painful, emotionally draining, and tragic”, in statements made to the media.


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Into the night, search parties scoured the area for additional casualties. The deceased remained on the scene several hours post-incident, as authorities awaited the arrival of forensic investigators and pathologists. As late as 3 a.m., the bodies still lay in situ.

“The bodies are still where they are on the ground. We can’t move anybody,” announced emergency services spokesperson William Ntladi.

Forensic personnel were observed covering the body of a young child, while another body lay concealed under a white cloth, cordoned off by police tape.

The deceased children were confirmed to be ages 1, 6, and 15, according to police. Two individuals were transported to the hospital for medical attention.

Boksburg is known for the tragic incident where 41 lives were claimed when a truck transporting liquefied petroleum gas exploded after being lodged under a bridge on Christmas Eve.

Ntladi identified a gas cylinder leak within a shack as the source of the nitrate gas causing Wednesday’s fatalities. Upon inspection, the cylinder was found to be empty, facilitating the search for more victims within a 100 meters (100 yards) radius of the cylinder.

Investigators navigated narrow, unlit alleyways between shacks, a common feature in South Africa’s impoverished urban settlements. Emergency vehicles, including six police cars, an armored vehicle, and an ambulance, were stationed at the Angelo settlement entrance.

The cylinder believed to have caused the gas leak was reported by Ntladi to be employed by illegal miners in their gold extraction processes.

Lesufi posted a video on Twitter displaying the interior of a shack housing multiple gas cylinders. The cylinder purported to have caused the leak was visible on the floor near the shack’s entrance.

Authorities have not disclosed whether the illegal miners implicated in the gas leak were among the victims.

Illegal mining is prevalent in the gold-rich regions surrounding Johannesburg, where miners infiltrate disused and cordoned-off mines in search of remaining deposits.

Mining fatalities, especially underground, are not uncommon. The South African department in charge of mining recently disclosed a suspected death toll of 31 illegal miners following a methane gas explosion in a disused mine in central South Africa’s city of Welkom.

This recent incident is likely to intensify resentment towards illegal miners, often immigrants and organized crime members, who are held responsible for increasing crime rates in local communities.

Last year, violence surged against illegal miners in a region west of Johannesburg, following allegations of gang rape against a group of 80 men, suspected to be illegal miners, on eight women at a TV shoot location in a disused mine.

Reportingfrom Cape Town, South Africa was provided by Imray.

For additional AP Africa news, visit: https://bigbignews.net/africa

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about toxic gas leak

How many people were killed in the toxic gas leak incident in South Africa?

At least 16 people, including three children, were killed in the toxic gas leak incident.

What caused the toxic gas leak in South Africa?

The toxic gas leak was caused by a nitrate gas that leaked from a gas cylinder being used by illegal miners to process gold.

Where did the toxic gas leak occur?

The incident happened in the Angelo settlement in Boksburg, a city on the eastern outskirts of Johannesburg, South Africa.

Were there any survivors or injured individuals?

Two individuals were taken to the hospital for treatment, while the rest of the victims unfortunately did not survive.

How did the authorities respond to the incident?

Emergency services and forensic investigators were called to the scene to assess and process the area. Search teams were deployed to locate any potential additional casualties.

Is illegal mining a common problem in South Africa?

Yes, illegal mining is a prevalent issue in South Africa, particularly in gold-rich areas. Illegal miners often enter closed-off and disused mines in search of remaining deposits.

Are there safety measures in place to prevent such incidents?

Safety measures are in place, but illegal miners operate outside the legal framework, disregarding safety regulations and protocols.

Has there been any previous incidents related to illegal mining in South Africa?

Yes, South Africa has witnessed previous incidents related to illegal mining, including explosions and fatalities. The government has been working to address this issue and improve safety in mining operations.

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