An inferno that engulfed a five-storey building taken over for illegal housing killed more than 70 people including children and left over 50 others with various degrees of burns in central Johannesburg on Thursday, said the South African city’s emergency services.
The building involved in this incident is in a deprived crime-ridden area that had been turned into illegal housing after being abandoned.
Most of those living there were foreigners, one resident said.
“We have now 73 fatalities and 52 people injured who were transported to various healthcare facilities for further medical care,” said Robert Mulaudzi, the Emergency Management Services spokesman.
At least seven children were among those killed by the flames, the youngest is under two years old, he said. Some were left burned beyond recognition.
“I’m grateful to be alive, there were a lot of us running, trying to find the fire exit and a lot of people eventually died because of the smoke inhalation,” said Kenny Bupe, a survivor caught up in the blaze while visiting a friend.