tragic johannesburg fire claims dozens of lives

Tragic Johannesburg Fire Claims Dozens of Lives

The President of South Africa paid a visit to the scene of the Johannesburg fire earlier in the day, which claimed at least 74 lives, on Thursday evening, August 31. The deadliest fire in the nation in recent years claimed the lives of twelve children, the youngest of whom was one year old. In the impoverished section of what was formerly the business sector, 61 injured patients were sent to the hospital.

President Cyril Ramaphosa conveyed the shock and profound sadness felt by his administration. “I learned about this horrible incident early in the morning. The tragic loss of so many lives in Johannesburg has deeply saddened us as a government. This is extraordinary; the number of people killed by a fire in the city center of Johannesburg has never occurred before. This is tragic, then.”

After postponing his Thursday night television speech on the BRICS economic meeting that took place in Johannesburg last week, Ramaphosa made the visit. The head of forensic services in the Gauteng province of Johannesburg, Thembalethu Mpahlaza, reported that of the remains retrieved, 24 were female, 40 were male, and 10 were “burned beyond recognition. According to city officials, the abandoned, municipality-owned, listed structure in a poor, crime-ridden neighborhood was converted into illegal dwellings. According to a local, the majority of people residing there were foreigners.

Kenny Bupe, a survivor who was caught up in the fire while visiting a friend, stated, “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. The 28-year-old told AFP that while some people “jumped out” of windows, he was part of a group that was able to unlock a closed fire escape gate and go to safety.

After the fire was extinguished, blankets and sheets that were utilized as escape routes were hung from the charred windows. In an attempt to save them, witnesses described parents tossing their infants onto the street. According to Mac Katlego, 25, who lives across the street, “there were people catching the babies, and there were also mattresses laid out for them. Rescuers were closing up search efforts in the evening and turning the site over to the authorities.

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In addition to saying that the disaster needs to be examined, President Ramaphosa stated that officials were working “full out” to help those affected. Families affected have been relocated to shelters located throughout the city. Ramaphosa stated, “It’s a wake-up call for us to start addressing the housing situation in the inner cities. According to city officials, the building was abandoned and later converted into an illegal residence.

Many illegally occupied buildings in Johannesburg’s city center are allegedly under the control of criminal organizations. At first, it was unclear what started the fire. In a nation where homelessness and poverty are pervasive, frequent power outages are a problem, and house fires are very prevalent, authorities stated that stoves and other heating appliances, or candles used for interior lighting, were most likely the cause. “There was a security gate inside the building itself that was closed so people couldn’t get out,” stated Mgcini Tshwaku, a member of the municipal committee in charge of public safety for the city. “That gate had a lot of burned bodies stashed in it.”

Throughout the day, rescue responders covered the bodies on the street outside while firefighters suppressed hotspots. Paramedics assisted the survivors; a number of them appeared hurt and clearly in pain. A resident named Noma Mahlalela, 41, claimed, “The scene this morning was a mess; there were bodies on the ground everywhere,” noting that the majority of the residents were foreigners. Inside, according to authorities, there were more than “80 shacks” erected.

“Due to the combustible materials used, the fire spread very quickly, affecting different levels of the building,” Emergency Management Services spokesman Robert Mulaudzi stated. According to Johannesburg city manager Floyd Brink, 140 foreign nationals were detained during a police raid on the premises in 2019 for allegedly collecting rent unlawfully.

Nobuhle Zwane, who managed to escape with her two children, ages two and thirteen, claimed that mattresses had blocked some passageways. “It was so difficult for us to get out,” she added. “We did breathe in a good deal of smoke. Every floor had a security gate, which residents alleged was locked at night to keep away police and potential intruders.

With the most developed economy on the continent, South Africa draws millions of migrants from other African countries, many of whom are undocumented. Many people expressed their condolences, including Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, and Moussa Faki Mahamat, the head of the African Union Commission.