WATCH | Multiple fatalities, including young child, as fire guts building in Joburg CBD

31 August 2023 - 06:35
By Khanyisile Ngcobo, Rorisang Kgosana and Thabo Tshabalala

A fire broke out in a building in Johannesburg's city centre early on Thursday, causing multiple fatalities and injuries.

The death toll has risen to 73 and is likely to increase as firefighters make their  way  through the building in a search and rescue mission. 

City of Johannesburg emergency services spokesperson Robert Mulaudzi said firefighters were alerted to the fire in a building on the corner of Delvers and Albert streets at about 1.30am.

"It's a five-storey building which caught fire in the early hours of this morning. We managed to evacuate the people who were inside the building as soon as we arrived while we were conducting firefighting operations."

Among the fatalities, he said, was "a young child who might be between one and two years old."

Of the injured, some suffered smoke inhalation with others sustaining minor injuries.

He confirmed the fire has been contained and that they were busy with "damping down" as well as search and recovery operations.

"At this stage the cause of the fire is still a subject of investigations.

"Officials from City of Johannesburg disaster management have been activated to start facilitating relief for affected families."

This is the third of the city's older buildings to catch alight recently. In June, two young children died in a fire in Hillbrow while earlier this month, the top floor of a building in nearby Yeoville was gutted in a blaze. In July, the city centre was also hit by an underground gas blast in Lilian Ngoyi, formerly Bree, street.