SOUTH AFRICA, Johannesburg – The Ekurhuleni EMS has confirmed that 24 people have died of suspected gas inhalation at the Angelo informal settlement in Boksburg, Ekurhuleni on Wednesday night.
The gas -nitrate oxide – was reported to have leaked from a gas cylinder used by zama-zamas who operate from a shack in the informal settlement.
Ekurhuleni EMS spokesperson William Ntladi said officials were still combing the scene for more bodies.
“The search and recovery team is searching the shacks in and around the area where the cylinder was to verify if there are other casualties,” he said.
All of those affected by the gas had died with no patients being treated by paramedics.
Ntladi said it was unclear when the gas began leaking but added that when they were called to the scene at around 8pm, the deaths had already occurred.
Another Ekurhuleni EMS officer who earlier spoke to TimesLIVE shared details of the horrific scene where the bodies were found.
Women and children were among the dead. He said their bodies were found scattered in different parts of the settlement close to where the leak emanated from.
“The zama-zama guys live amongst the community and clean and refine their gold here using gas cylinders. Sadly this time the gas cylinders leaked resulting in the people who were sleeping suffocating. [Others] who were awake died as they tried to run but the fumes were too much to bare,” the medic said.
“For now, the youngest victims are two and five years old,” said the EMS official.
TimesLIVE has seen horrific pictures from the scene.
Meanwhile, another official from the local metro police department said: “Initially, when we received a call it was more to say there was an explosion, only with further investigations, it was ascertained to say it wasn’t an explosion there was a gas leakage”.
Authorities are on the scene.
Text/ Image: TimesLive