The death toll from the fire which gutted a hijacked building in Marshalltown, in the Johannesburg CBD on Thursday might increase as emergency workers intensify their search and recovery, the City's Emergency Management Services (EMS) said.
Before 8am, a revised death toll showed that at least 56 bodies have been removed from the gutted building. One of the deceased people is a toddler.
Earlier, spokesperson for the City of Joburg’s EMS Robert Mulaudzi said the fire had been extinguished and emergency services had begun a search and recovery in the five-storey residential building.
“At this stage, the number of fatalities might increase. Since we have stopped firefighting operations, the fire has been extinguished, we are doing what we call search and recovery, just to make sure that each and every floor is checked for bodies,” Mulaudzi said speaking to broadcaster Newzroom Afrika from the scene.
“You will understand that it is like an informal settlement, inside a building. So we have to go through all the debris inside the building, floor by floor to make sure that we can be able to recover more bodies out of this fire incident.”
Earlier today, IOL reported that more than 20 people in the inferno which engulfed the building, while and 43 other residents were taken to different facilities for injuries and smoke inhalation.
“It is a very unfortunate situation which we had to respond to this morning at around 1.30am,” said Mulaudzi.
“We were called to this five-storey building at the corner of Alberts and Delvers Street which is one of those hijacked buildings, abandoned buildings in the inner city,” he said.
“We started evacuating people inside the building, while conducting firefighting operations. In the process, we managed to recover about 20 bodies and about 43 people were treated for smoke inhalation and also some various injuries.”
Last month, at least one people died in a massive explosion which rocked the Joburg CBD, while 41 other people were injured.