South Africa: Suspected gas leak leaves 16 dead

A suspected nitrate oxide gas leak in South Africa has led to the deaths of 16 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.

Nitrate 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.

No one was taken to hospital, emergency service officials have told the BBC.

But they fear more bodies could be found overnight as search and rescue teams continue their work.

This tragedy comes just six months after a gas tanker explosion on Christmas eve which claimed 41 lives in the same town.