IAccording to local media reports, at least 16 people have died from gas poisoning in the South African city of Boksburg. The rescue workers, who initially spoke of 24 dead, corrected the number downwards. According to the reports, nitrogen leaked in a city slum on Wednesday evening for reasons that are still unclear. In the evening, rescue workers searched the settlement for further injuries and deaths.
There are 16 confirmed deaths, the other victims were revived by paramedics and taken to hospitals, emergency services spokesman William Ntladi told AFP. Four of the injured were in mortal danger, the condition of eleven other injured was “serious but stable”. Five women and three children were among the dead.
The rescue service was alerted around 8:00 p.m., initially because of a suspected explosion. The rescue workers then found a gas leak. A cylinder with a “poisonous gas” was found on site. Initial investigations indicated that the gas had been used for “illegal mining activities,” he added.
Boksburg, located about 20 kilometers from South Africa’s economic metropolis Johannesburg, is considered the center for coal and gold mining in South Africa’s north-east. A serious gas explosion had already occurred in the city at the end of December after a tanker truck got stuck under a bridge. At least 40 people died in the accident.