At least 16 people, including children, died after a gas leak at an informal settlement at Boksburg on the East Rand.
The incident, which is believed to be linked to illegal mining activities, took place at the Angelo informal settlement.
“Paramedics were able to revive some of the victims and they were taken to hospitals,” said William Ntladi, spokesperson for Ekurhuleni’s emergency service.
Of those in hospital, four are in critical condition while 11 are in serious but stable condition, he said. Five women and three children are among the dead.
The fire and emergency services received a call about a possible gas explosion at around 8pm, but on arrival they discovered it was a cylinder leaking a toxic gas.
According to Ntladi, there was suspected to be nitric oxide in the cylinder and it is being used for illegal mining activity in and around the settlement.
When the emergency services arrived on the scene, many people were found unconscious after inhaling the gas and the death toll was initially indicated as 24, but some of the people could be brought back to life.
Rescue workers and members of the police’s forensic unit combed the area until the early hours. The informal settlement lies at the foot of an old abandoned mine.
The latest incident comes after the fatal explosion in Boksburg on Christmas Day which claimed the lives of 41 people.
The driver of a gas tanker drove under a bridge on the morning of 24 December after which the tanker got stuck and finally exploded.