A suspected nitrate oxide gas leak in South Africa has led to the deaths of 17 people, local officials say.
The victims – including women and children – died from gas inhalation at an informal settlement in Boksburg, east of Johannesburg.
Wednesday’s leak has been linked to illegal gold mining in the area. NEMA Seeks NAF Support On Disaster ManagementNitrate oxide gas is often used by illegal gold miners – known locally as zama zamas – to extract gold from soil stolen from abandoned mine shafts.
One of the gas cylinders was found leaking in Boksburg’s densely populated Angelo shanty town.
The victims were found within a 100m (328ft) radius of the scene. Emergency service officials fear more bodies could be found as search and rescue teams continue their work.
Fifteen people are receiving treatment in hospital. Three of those are in a critical condition.
One woman, a Mozambican living in South Africa, told the BBC that her husband had died in the gas leak. She said she had received a call from a neighbour who told her that her husband had collapsed.
Speaking through tears, she added that she was concerned about how she would get her husband’s body home to Mozambique as she was unemployed and he worked part-time jobs as a handyman.
This tragedy comes just six months after a gas tanker explosion on Christmas eve which claimed 41 lives in the same town.