A catastrophic fire has broken out in a high-rise building in Johannesburg, South Africa’s largest city, leaving at least 64 people dead and 43 injured. Emergency services spokesman Robert Mulaudzi warned that the death toll could rise as more people could become trapped inside the building.
Firefighters have been struggling to navigate the building, which is riddled with obstructions, making escape difficult for residents. So far, they have only managed to clear three of the building’s five floors. “In my more than 20 years of service, I have never seen anything like this,” Mulaudzi commented.
Desperate residents resorted to jumping out of windows, which could add to the death toll. Among the victims were seven children, the youngest was only one year old. The building, located in the city’s central business district, was an “informal settlement” that housed homeless people. Witnesses estimate that around 200 people may have lived in the building.
Families searching for their missing loved ones have been told the likelihood of finding them alive is slim. Firefighters have moved from rescue operations to search and recovery. Authorities have largely extinguished the blaze after battling it for three hours, although smoke continues to pour out of the windows.
The area is known for its abandoned and dilapidated buildings, often referred to as “hijacked buildings”, which provide precarious shelter to people in desperate need. The cause of the fire has not yet been determined, but initial reports indicate that the residents were lighting a fire inside to keep warm.
This article is sourced from and written by AI.
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