JOHANNESBURG, July 6 (Xinhua) — At least 16 people, including three children, were killed when a toxic gas leaked from a steel cylinder near Johannesburg, South African police said.
Emergency services said as many as 24 people may have died. It was not immediately clear why there was a difference in the death toll.
Search and rescue teams are still working in the area to try to determine casualties.
The South African Police Service said on Wednesday that the incident took place in an informal settlement in the city of Boksburg, on the eastern outskirts of Johannesburg.
Emergency services spokesman William Ntladi said the cause of the death was a leak from a gas cylinder in a hut in the Angelo settlement. He said the leak had stopped and crews were searching a 100-meter (100-yard) radius around the cylinder to check for any more casualties.
Bodies still lie on the ground “in and around the area,” Ntradi said, with forensic investigators and pathologists on their way to the scene.
“We can’t move anybody,” Ntradi said. “The body is still on the ground.”
Police said the three children killed were aged 1, 6 and 15. Two of them were taken to hospital for treatment, police said.
On Christmas Eve, 41 people were killed when a truck carrying liquefied petroleum gas became stuck under a bridge in the city of Boksburg and exploded.
Ntradi said authorities have preliminary information that illegal miners are using gas from cylinders to process gold inside the sheds. He did not identify the type of gas.
Illegal mining is rampant in the gold-rich region around Johannesburg, with miners entering closed and abandoned shafts in search of remaining deposits. (Associated Press)
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