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S’AFRICA: 17 dead in gas leak at Johannesburg slum

AT atleast 17 people, including three children, have died after a gas leak at a South African slum near Johannesburg, possibly linked to illegal mining operations, emergency services said on Thursday.

Initially, authorities had given a toll of around two dozen deaths from the leak on Wednesday night, although it had later been revised down to 16.

Panyaza Lesufi, premier of Gauteng province that encompasses South Africa’s biggest city, said at the site of the disaster that one more person had died after being taken to hospital.

“There are five others that were later admitted this morning. There is one under oxygen… Those in the hospital, the total number is 11,” he told reporters.

Fire and emergency services received a call around 8:00 pm (1800 GMT) n Wednesday about a gas explosion in the Angelo slum east of Johannesburg.

But on arrival they discovered it was “a gas leakage from a cylinder” containing a “poisonous gas”, emergency services spokesman William Ntladi said.

He said the cause of the incident “is alleged to be a nitrate oxide gas leakage from the cylinder used in an illegal mining activity in and around the settlement”.

“Apparently, the illegal miners used the gas to extrapolate gold out of the soil,” he said.

When they arrived at the scene near the middle-class suburb of Boksburg, first responders found scores of people “lying all over the area, due to inhalation of this toxic gas”, Ntladi said.

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Naija Times