At Least 73 Dead In Massive Building Fire

By Jason Hall

August 31, 2023

Emergency Rescue
Photo: Getty Images

At least 73 people were killed in a massive fire at a five-story building in Johannesburg, South Africa, that was used by homeless people, emergency services announced Thursday via the Associated Press.

Seven of the victims killed were reported to be children, which included a 1-year-old, an emergency services spokesperson confirmed. Several casualties who lived in shacks and other makeshift structures located inside the building are suspected to have died by throwing themselves out of windows in an attempt to escape the blaze, according to a local government official.

One witness said he saw people throwing babies out of the building in an effort to save them, while at least one man who died during the incident was seen jumping from a third floor window and colliding "head first" into the concrete sidewalk.

Up to 200 individuals were believed to be living in the building at the time of the fire, which included some staying in the basement area intended to be used as a parking garage, witnesses said via the AP. City officials said an estimated 141 families were affected by the fire but didn't give an exact number of how many people were inside the building when it began.

Many of the people living inside the building were reported to be foreign nationals, according to local officials.

“This is a tragedy for Johannesburg. Over 20 years in the service, I’ve never come across something like this,” said Johannesburg Emergency Services Management spokesman Robert Mulaudzi via the AP.

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