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Explosion kills three workers at ArcelorMittal plant in South Africa

23 February 2021

Three workers were found dead at an ArcelorMittal steel plant in South Africa following an explosion on February 17. The bodies of the workers were discovered under rubble after a portion of a 90m stack at one of the site’s coke batteries failed and fell onto a control room.

Vanderbijlpark Steelworks - Image: Flickr/User: Vincent Maurin
Vanderbijlpark Steelworks - Image: Flickr/User: Vincent Maurin

The incident happened in Vanderbijlpark, an industrial city around 43 miles (70km) south of Johannesburg. The three workers were reported missing immediately after an explosion caused a portion of a stack to collapse. The bodies were found a day later on February 18 after rubble was moved.

The incident happened at around 02:00 local time. In a statement, ArcelorMittal South Africa extended its heartfelt condolences and deepest sympathies to the families and colleagues of the deceased. The families of the employees have been informed and are receiving the necessary support from the company.

The steel company said all three employees succumbed to injuries sustained when a portion of a 90m stack at one of the operation’s coke batteries failed and fell onto the coke battery control room in which they were working at the time. ArcelorMittal has launched an investigation into the cause of the accident and all relevant authorities have been notified. The statement said that the coke battery affected by the incident is one of five batteries currently in operation at Vanderbijlpark Works.

In response to the incident, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) declared a strike at Arcelor Mittal. The Union said that at the heart of the dispute is the fact that Arcelor Mittal abuses workers through labour brokers.

A statement from NUMSA says large numbers of its members are employed through contractors but work for Arcelor Mittal and have loyally served the company despite poor wages and intolerable working conditions.

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