The three South African Defence Force members who died in a "freak accident" at the army's naval base in Durban, were trying to rescue three contract workers screaming for help at the bottom of a sewage pit after a gas leak, says the SANDF.
The SANDF's Brigadier-General Mafi Mgobozi said contract workers from the Department of Public Works were working in the sewage pit at the naval base. There were suddenly screams for help.
"The workers said there was a gas leakage," said Mgobozi on Friday.
He said three SANDF members who heard the cries went down the sewage pit to help but they were overcome by the gas fumes. All six men died while 26 others were injured.
Mgobozi said the army was still in the process of determining what type of gas had leaked.
"We want to send our deepest condolences to the families of our members and those of the contractors that were working at the sewage pit."
The names of the deceased will be released as soon as their next of kin have been informed.
SA Navy spokesperson, Rachel Dulamo, said the Navy would be releasing a statement detailing exactly what happened in the next hour.
Mgobozi said the army was still investigating how the 26 others were injured.