A gas explosion at Durban harbour has claimed the lives of six men.
* This story has been updated.

Durban – More details are slowly emerging about the freak explosion at the naval base in Durban.

The South African National Defence Force's Brigadier-General Mafi Mgobozi said the three SANDF members who died were trying to rescue three contract workers screaming for help at the bottom of a sewage pit after a gas leak.

He said workers from the Department of Public Works were working in the sewage pit at the base. He said the soldiers who heard the cries went into the pit to help but they were overcome by the fumes.

Pan Africanist Congress spokesman Kenneth Mokgatlhe said the party learnt with great shock and sadness the deaths of 6 people in an unfortunate accident at the naval base, Durban.

"The loss of one person is too many, the deaths of 6 people have shook our hearts greatly. We are deeply touched by this unfortunate accident which was not supposed to transpire in the first place.

" We would like to send our deepest condolences to the families. We also wish speedy recovery to the injured."