At least 52 people killed in apartment block fire in South Africa

Johannesburg fire

At least 52 people have died after fire ripped through a five-storey building in the early hours of today in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Emergency Services spokesman Robert Mulaudzi told The Associated Press that another 43 people were injured in the blaze that broke out in the predawn hours.

He said the death toll might still increase.

It is unclear what sparked the blaze at the five-storey building in the city centre.

“Authorities said the fire had been largely extinguished, but smoke still seeped out of windows of the blackened building downtown. Strings of sheets and other materials also hung out of some of the windows. It was not clear if people had used those to try and escape the fire or if they were trying to save their possessions,’ AP reported.

Mulaudzi described the building as an “informal settlement” where homeless people had moved in looking for accommodation without any formal lease agreements.

Authorities believe that 200 people were living in the building.

Meanwhile, a search and recovery operation is underway and firefighters are moving through the building.

Photos and videos posted on social media platform X showed fire trucks and ambulances outside the building with burnt out windows.