At least 16 people, including three children, were killed after toxic gas leaked from a cylinder near Johannesburg, South African police have said.
Search and rescue teams were still working through the area trying to ascertain the extent of the casualties.
The incident happened in an informal settlement in the city of Boksburg on the eastern outskirts of Johannesburg, the South African Police Services said.
Police said the three children killed were aged one, six and 15. Two people were taken to the hospital for treatment, police said.
Emergency services spokesman William Ntladi said that Wednesday’s deaths were caused by a leak from a gas cylinder being kept in a shack in the Angelo informal settlement.
He said the leak had stopped and teams were searching a 100-yard radius around the cylinder to check for more casualties.
Ntladi said the bodies were still lying on the ground ‘in and around the area,’ and forensic investigators and pathologists were on their way to the scene.
He added: ‘We can’t move anybody. The bodies are still where they are on the ground.’
Ntladi said the initial information authorities had indicated the cylinder was being used by illegal miners to process gold inside a shack.
South Africa’s Gauteng Province Premier Panyaza Lesufi said investigations were underway to determine what type of gas was involved.
He said the youngest victim was a one-year old.
He added: ‘It’s not a nice scene at all, it’s not a nice scene. It’s painful, emotionally draining, and tragic.’