The death toll from a fire that engulfed a five-storey building Thursday morning in the central Marshalltown neighborhood, Johannesburg, South Africa has risen to at least 73.
Johannesburg emergency services in an update said 52 people were also injured and have been "transported to various healthcare facilities for further medical care".
The building in the Marshalltown neighbourhood was being used as ‘informal’ housing for some 200 homeless people according to the city's authorities.
Search and recovery operations were ongoing even as firefighters at the scene say they had put out the flames.
"So we are moving up towards the building, as I said earlier, we will be moving floor by floor to make sure that we clear all the floors. And then from there, as soon as that we are done, we hand over the scene to South African police to continue with their work" Robert Mulaudzi, Johannesburg Emergency Management Services spokesperson said.
Some of the people living in the building were reported to have thrown themselves out of windows to escape the blaze. Seven of the victims were children and the youngest was a 1-year-old, according to Mulaudzi.
"What do we need to highlight to our viewers at home is that they must just have a picture of an informal settlement inside a building So therefore, the chances of one being trapped inside that building is very much higher because of, you know, the partitions and all the things they're using to create those structures" said Mulaudzi.
In June a blaze ripped through a dilapidated building in Johannesburg and killed two children under ten who were locked in an apartment.