South Africa: A fire at night ravaged a five-story building in Johannesburg, South Africa, that was home to homeless people. At least 73 people died in the fire.
A local government official in South Africa said that some people in the building jumped out of windows to get away from the fire, which could have killed them.
A spokesman for emergency services said that seven of the people who died were children, with the youngest being 1 year old.
The fire, which started around 1 a.m. in the heart of Johannesburg’s central business area, also hurt 43 people.
People who are desperate for a place to stay often take over abandoned buildings, which are called “hijacked buildings” in the area.
Robert Mulaudzi, a spokeswoman for the Johannesburg Emergency Services Management, said that the number of deaths was likely to rise and that more bodies were likely still inside the building. He said that it took three hours to put out the fire, and by mid-morning, firemen had only reached three of the five floors.
Mulaudzi said, “In 20 years of service, I’ve never seen anything like this.”
He said that the inside of the building was like “an informal settlement,” with shacks and other structures thrown up and people crammed into rooms. Mulaudzi says that there were “obstacles” everywhere that would have made it hard for people to escape the deadly fire and for rescue workers to get through the site.
He said it was “very unlikely” that anyone would still be alive hours after the fire started. Search teams found 64 bodies.
Witnesses say that as many as 200 people may have lived in the building.
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