- The blaze engulfed a five-storey building in Johannesburg.
- The cause of the fire was not immediately known.
- Firefighters began search and recovery operations.
At least 73 people were killed and over 50 injured in a fire in the central business district of South Africa’s biggest city Johannesburg, the municipal government said on Thursday.
Firefighters and emergency vehicles were on the scene, while bodies lay covered on a street near the site of the deadly blaze, Reuters photographs showed.
A South African television station Newzroom Afrika said the fire engulfed a five-storey building that had been abandoned at one stage but where people had been living.
It was not immediately clear what caused the overnight blaze.
Among the injured, some suffering from smoke inhalation, and were taken for treatment at local hospitals, Emergency Management Services spokesman Robert Mulaudzi said.
“The latest update is that we have now 73 fatalities and 52 people injured who were transported to various healthcare facilities for further medical care,” said Emergency Management Services spokesman Robert Mulaudzi.
Firefighters who were called to the scene put out the flames and initiated search and recovery operations.
“We are moving floor by floor conducting these body recoveries,” Mulaudzi said, adding the death toll was expected to rise.
The building, which has been evacuated, is located in a deprived area of what used to be the business district of South Africa’s economic hub, and was used as an informal settlement, Mulaudzi said.
Television footage showed fire trucks and ambulances outside the red and white building with burned-out windows, which had been cordoned off by police.