At least 73 people including children have been killed in a Johannesburg building fire. Over 50 others have also been injured in the blaze that broke out in the pre-dawn hours of Thursday at the city center five-story building. The building was housing homeless people who had moved in searching for accommodation.
Even though city officials owned the building, cartels had taken the building over and it is believed that some of the victims rented rooms from criminal gangs.
Authorities say seven of the victims of the fire were children, including a one-year-old child. Some also jumped to their deaths and Robert Mulaudzi, a spokesman for the emergency services, said the death toll may rise as more people are feared trapped inside.
“Over 20 years in the service, I’ve never come across something like this,” Mulaudzi said of the fire. It is yet to be known what sparked the fire, which has been largely extinguished as of the time of putting together this story. Images from the scene showed covered bodies lined up near the burned building. Reports say about 200 people lived in the building, with many of them being foreign nationals.
“This is not a place where somebody can live,” one woman looking for her daughter told reporters. “I was trying to get her to come back home so she could get back to the life she was living before.”
Officials say the area of the fire has been having issues with housing, and there were 1.2 million people looking for a place to live.