Blaze in Johannesburg building claims over 70 lives

A fire engulfed a dilapidated apartment block in Johannesburg overnight, resulting in a staggering loss of life. The building, inhabited by homeless individuals, fell victim to the blaze, leaving scores dead and many others injured.

As the emergency response continued on Thursday, local authorities and media outlets grappled with the extent of the tragedy.

The flames raged through the derelict apartment block, home to individuals without shelter, in the late hours of the night. Reports have confirmed a toll of at least 73 fatalities, with 43 individuals suffering injuries in the disaster. This stands as one of the most devastating incidents of its kind in recent South African history.

Johannesburg’s Emergency Management spokesperson, Robert Mulaudzi, stated that the fire’s origin remained under investigation. The inferno ignited around 1:30 a.m. local time (2330 GMT), plunging the city into crisis mode.

By 10 a.m., the remnants of the five-story structure were still smoldering, with extensive portions shrouded in soot. Emergency services swarmed the vicinity as lifeless bodies lay covered with blankets on a nearby street, painting a grim tableau of the aftermath, as recounted by a Reuters correspondent.

Colleen Makhubele, the speaker for the municipal government, insinuated that those occupying the building had done so unlawfully. She noted that the city had encountered difficulties in consistently evicting squatters from such premises, thereby underscoring the complex challenges tied to these types of situations.