At least 74 dead in Fire at a Building in Johannesburg


Johannesburg was struck by a devastating fire that swept through a five-storey building, resulting in a tragic loss of life. The blaze, which occurred in the heart of central Johannesburg on Thursday, claimed the lives of more than 70 individuals, including children, according to a statement from the city’s emergency services.

Another 52 people sustained injuries, some of whom suffered from smoke inhalation. These injured individuals were swiftly transported to local hospitals for necessary medical attention, as confirmed by Emergency Management Services spokesperson Robert Mulaudzi.

Mulaudzi conveyed, “We have recorded a total of 74 fatalities, and 52 individuals have sustained injuries. They have been conveyed to various healthcare facilities to receive further medical care.”

Disturbingly, the victims included at least seven children, a chilling detail that underscores the gravity of the incident. The tragedy could potentially rank among the deadliest fires witnessed globally in recent years. Tragically, the youngest victim was a child under two years old, and some individuals were so severely burned that their identities were indiscernible.

Firefighters valiantly extinguished the flames, and they are currently engaged in damping down residual heat. Simultaneously, search and recovery efforts are ongoing within the building. Mulaudzi remarked, “We are methodically searching each floor as we recover the bodies.” These efforts are being meticulously conducted in coordination with local broadcaster ENCA.

A correspondent from AFP, present at the scene, reported that emergency services continue to retrieve charred remains from the building. The solemn process involves placing these remains under blankets and sheets on the street outside.

Mulaudzi expressed deep sorrow, saying, “Today is a somber day for Johannesburg. With over two decades of service, I have never encountered a tragedy of this magnitude.”

At present, the exact cause of the fire remains uncertain, given that it broke out overnight. Mgcini Tshwaku, a member of the city’s mayoral committee responsible for public safety, suggested that the use of candles for lighting within the building could have ignited the blaze.

The building, which had been evacuated, was situated in an economically disadvantaged area that was once part of South Africa’s business district. It was repurposed as an informal settlement, possibly housing many illegal occupants. Tshwaku stated that a closed security gate trapped people inside, leading to the discovery of numerous burned bodies near this entrance.

The scene was characterized by fire trucks and ambulances stationed outside the building with its charred windows. The area was cordoned off by law enforcement, while a small crowd gathered to witness the tragic aftermath.

Unfortunately, the unauthorized occupation of abandoned buildings in the city center is a widespread issue, often controlled by criminal syndicates who extract rent from the occupants. Authorities estimated that more than “80 shacks” were erected within the affected building.

The fire’s rapid propagation was attributed to the presence of highly combustible materials throughout the structure, causing it to spread swiftly across different levels.

This incident stands as one of the most catastrophic fires in recent South African history, as well as a tragic event on the global scale. In December of the prior year, a fuel tanker explosion near Johannesburg claimed 34 lives, while in June, flames tore through a dilapidated city building, resulting in the death of two children under the age of 10 who were locked inside an apartment.

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Suhina Bisaria
Suhina Bisaria
Suhina Bisaria is a journalist with a marketing degree. She is keen to learn and write about everything people might be interested in. She has worked as a copy editor in Delhi with prestigious news organisations. Apart from keeping track of all things newsworthy and delivering error-free content to users, she has also tried her hand at writing human interest features, Entertainment stories, health and lifestyle stories, celebrity news and viral news.

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