Scores of people have been confirmed dead after fire razed a five-storey building in the central area of Johannesburg, South Africa’s biggest city.
The fire which broke out on Thursday morning has now claimed 63 lives including a toddler, according to the city’s emergency services.
At least 48 people have been reported injured.
Videos from the scene posted on social media showed huge orange flames lighting up a pitch-black skyline, while a crowd that had fled outside wandered around in confusion.
Fire trucks and ambulances outside the building with burned-out windows, which had been cordoned off by police, can also be seen in the videos.
#JoburgUpdates Firefighters , @CityofJoburgEMS are currently attending to a building on fire in the Joburg CBD corner Delvers and Alberts street .Ten people confirmed dead and multiple patients treated on scene transported to various health care facilities for further medical… pic.twitter.com/OZTrajIbAq
— City of Joburg (@CityofJoburgZA) August 31, 2023
Robert Mulaudzi, the city’s emergency services spokesperson, said firefighters were alerted at about 1.30am.
Mulaudzi said it was likely the death toll would rise as a search and recovery operation is underway.
He added that it was not immediately clear what caused the inferno.
“It’s a five-storey building which caught fire in the early hours of this morning. We managed to evacuate the people who were inside the building as soon as we arrived while we were conducting firefighting operations,” he said.
“At this stage, the cause of the fire is still a subject of investigations.”
Mulaudzi said the fire had been contained and that the city’s disaster management had been activated to start facilitating relief for affected families.