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Deadly Fire Hits Johannesburg: South African President Expresses Deep Sadness Over Tragic Incident

Published September 21, 2023
9 months ago

A catastrophic fire hit Johannesburg, South Africa, on Thursday, August 31, leaving at least 74 dead, including 12 children, marking the deadliest blaze in the country's recent history. Upon hearing the devastating news, President Cyril Ramaphosa promptly canceled a television address on the BRICS economic summit to visit the site of the tragedy, expressing the government's shock and deep sadness over the catastrophic episode.



"At the break of dawn, I learned about this tragic event. We are deeply saddened by the loss of so many lives here in Johannesburg," said Ramaphosa. "This tragedy is unprecedented. Johannesburg has never seen an event like this where so many lives are claimed by a fire in the city center."


Allegedly, the municipality-owned building, located in a deprived and crime-prone area, had been abandoned and illegally transformed into housing. According to survivors and spectators, many of the inhabitants of the illegal housing establishment were foreigners, and some resorted to extreme escape measures such as jumping from windows and throwing babies into the street.



In an urgent response to the horrific incident, the national government has been working relentlessly to assist the affected individuals, many of whom were taken to the hospital, while others were relocated to shelters around the city. President Ramaphosa also emphasized the dire need to properly investigate the incident and address the prevalent housing issues in the country's inner cities.


The exact cause of the blaze remains unclear. However, the authorities suspect that candles used for lighting or stoves and other heating devices within the structure might have instigated the fire. The tragedy brings into sharp focus South Africa's widespread illegal occupation of disused buildings, which are frequently under the control of criminal syndicates.


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