According to local officials, a suspected gas leak in South Africa has killed 17 people.
The victims, including three children, died from gas inhalation at an informal settlement in Boksburg, east of Johannesburg.
Police and forensic investigators have stated that the scene of the toxic gas leak is still active and have advised people to avoid the area.
The Wednesday leak has been linked to illegal gold mining in the area.
Gases are frequently 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 discovered leaking in Boksburg’s densely populated Angelo shanty town.
The victims were discovered within a 100m (328ft) radius of the scene.
“The scene was heartbreaking… the bodies were literally scattered everywhere,” said Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi.
As search and rescue teams continue their work, officials fear that more bodies will be discovered.
Twelve people are being treated in hospitals, one of whom is in critical condition.
According to one woman, a Mozambican living in South Africa, her husband died as a result of the gas leak.
She stated that she received a phone call from a neighbor informing her that her husband had collapsed.
She added, through tears, that she was concerned about getting her husband’s body back to Mozambique because she was unemployed and he worked part-time as a handyman.
Johannesburg, also known as the city of gold, is home to a maze of abandoned mine shafts that stretches for hundreds of kilometers.
Illegal gold miners, mostly from neighboring countries such as Lesotho, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique, have taken over the abandoned shafts.
Residents in Angelo have told the BBC that illegal mining gangs have been renting homes where they refine their loot.
Residents said they noticed a foul odor coming from one of the shacks early Wednesday night.
Those who lived closest to the rented shack began to collapse.
Mr. Lesufi stated that locals had requested assistance from the army and security forces in removing the miners from the area.
“We need a tactical unit to deal with this type of crime.” “Normally, illegal miners are heavily armed,” he said.
This tragedy comes just six months after a gas tanker explosion on Christmas Eve in the same town killed 41 people.