South Africa gas leak kills 17; link to illegal mining mooted

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The death toll from a leak of poisonous gas in a South African shantytown rose to 17 on Thursday, as officials suggested the accident was probably linked to an illegal mining operation.

Gauteng Province Premier Panyaza Lesufi said investigations were under way to determine how the cylinder in which the gas was stored sprung a leak overnight, and what type of gas was involved.On Thursday he visited the site of the disaster near Boksburg, east of Johannesburg. In December, a gas tanker explosion in the same township killed dozens and destroyed houses and vehicles.Initial investigations indicated the leak could be linked to illegal mining, said a spokesperson for the Disaster and Emergency Management Services in Ekurhuleni municipality, where it occurred.”Whether the (suspected) illegal miners are among the deceased, that is not yet known,” William Ntladi told broadcaster SABC, which gave no further details.Illegal mining, mostly for gold or coal, has plagued South Africa’s mining industry for decades, robbing the sector and state coffers of billions of rand through smalltime pilfering as well as networks run by organised crime.

via Reuters

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