A tragic incident in Johannesburg, South Africa has claimed the lives of at least 16 people, including three children, after toxic gas leaked from a cylinder. The leak is believed to be connected to illegal mining activities, according to emergency services. Initially, there were fears that the death toll could be as high as 24, but after a recount of the bodies, authorities confirmed the number of fatalities as 16.
The gas leak occurred in the Angelo informal settlement in Boksburg, a city on the outskirts of Johannesburg. The victims, including three children aged one, six, and 15, tragically lost their lives. Two individuals were rushed to the hospital for treatment. Search and rescue teams are currently working to assess the full extent of the casualties.
Preliminary investigations suggest that the gas cylinders were being used by illegal miners to process gold inside a shack. A photograph published in local media revealed multiple gas cylinders set up in a dwelling. Johannesburg’s abandoned gold mines have become a hotspot for illegal miners, known as zama zamas, who hope to find gold and process it above ground. The Witwatersrand mines in Johannesburg have historically produced nearly a third of all the gold ever mined.
South Africa is estimated to have around 30,000 illegal miners, as reported by the South African Human Rights Commission. These miners face numerous hazards, including mine shaft collapses, gas leaks, and conflicts with mine workers. The growth of illegal mining can be attributed to the country’s high unemployment rate and the decline of the formal mining industry due to depleted reserves, falling commodity prices, rising employment costs, and unreliable power supplies.
Emergency services spokesperson William Ntladi confirmed that the deaths resulted from a gas leak in a shack within the Angelo settlement. The leak has been contained, and search teams are scouring a 100-meter radius to ensure there are no additional casualties. The bodies of the victims remain at the scene, awaiting the arrival of forensic investigators and pathologists.