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Fire outbreak kills 73

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Agency Report

A fire outbreak in a five-storey building on Thursday killed over 70 people, children inclusive, in Central Johannesburg, South Africa.

The city’s emergency services disclosed that over 52 persons were injured in the inferno.

 

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Emergency Management Services spokesman, Robert Mulaudzi, was cited to have confirmed, “We have now 73 fatalities and 52 people injured who were transported to various healthcare facilities for further medical care.”

Mulaudzi further said that at least seven children were among the dead, the youngest under two years old.
Some of the victims were left burnt beyond recognition.

Fire outbreak kills 73

Firefighters on duty to extinguish the inferno in Johannesburg, South Africa

A survivor caught up in the fire outbreak while visiting a friend, Kenny Bupe, was cited to have celebrated his escape thus: “I’m grateful to be alive, there was a lot of us running, trying to find the fire exit and a lot of people eventually died because of the smoke inhalation.”

 

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Kenny Bupe, 28, narrated that he was among a group that managed to break open a locked fire escape gate and run to safety, while others “jumped out” of the windows to save themselves.

Mulaudzi had said that firefighters at the scene have extinguished the flames and are “busy with damping down”, while search and recovery operations are ongoing.

According to Mulaudzi, “We are moving floor by floor conducting these body recoveries.”
Mulaudzi lamented: “It is indeed a sad day for the city of Johannesburg… over 20 years in the service, I’ve never come across something like this.”

The police have cordoned off the fire outbreak venue as search and rescue operations continue.

The cause of the fire said to have broke out overnight is not yet ascertained but efforts are in top gear for search and rescue operations.

Mulaudzi, however, noted that the building, which has been evacuated, is in what used to be the business district of South Africa’s economic hub and was used as an informal settlement. He was of the view that many may have been squatting in the building illegally.

A witness, Tshwaku, was cited to have said: “Inside the building itself there was a gate which was closed so people couldn’t get out.

“Many burned bodies were found stashed at that gate.”

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