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Night Fire Kills 73 People In South Africa

Night Fire Kills 73 People In South Africa
Firefighters work at the scene of a deadly blaze, in Johannesburg, South Africa August 31, 2023. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

At least 73 people were killed after a nighttime fire wrecked a building full of squatters in South Africa. 

The building was mainly occupied by homeless people and squatters in Johannesburg, forcing some to throw babies out of third-story windows in a desperate attempt to save them. 

At least seven of 73 victims were children, the youngest a 1-year-old, according to an emergency services spokesperson. 

More than 50 people were injured and emergency services officials warned that the death toll could still rise as they continued to search the scene more than 12 hours after the blaze broke out at around 1 a.m.

“Over 20 years in the service, I’ve never come across something like this,” Johannesburg Emergency Services Management spokesperson Robert Mulaudzi said.

Authorities had put up a theory, suggesting that the fire started from the candles that residents used to see at night. 

Some of the survivors described how they jumped out of windows to escape the blaze, but only after tossing their children to others below.

“Everything happened so fast and I only had time to throw the baby out,” said Adam Taiwo, who managed to save his 1-year-old son and himself. “I also followed him after they caught him downstairs,” Taiwo said he did not know where his wife, Joyce, was.

As many as 200 people may have been living in the building, witnesses said, including in the basement, which should have been used as a parking garage.

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