Gauteng Health MEC Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko says all those injured as a result of a fire in a building in the Johannesburg CBD are being taken to Helen Joseph Hospital as well as South Rand Hospital for treatment.
At least 73 people have since been found dead and more than 50 are injured after the five-storey building caught fire in the early hours of Thursday.
Nkomo-Ralehoko says the deceased will be taken to Diepkloof Mortuary.
“From outside because we are responsible for health and wellness, we have activated two hospitals, Helen Joseph and South Rand hospitals. All those that are injured, the CEOs are on site to make sure they get beds and get medical attention and I have my team since morning from the emergency side. And he is here with me together with the CEO of Forensic Pathology Services. So, everyone who has demised, we are taking to Diepkloof; and once Diepkloof is full, we will take them to Hillbrow. We will keep on updating so that families must know where they can get their demised.”
Meanwhile, Johannesburg Mayor Kabelo Gwamanda, who is at the scene of the fire, says this is an unfortunate incident.
“It is unfortunate that we have to keep on responding to situations of this nature where a building is leased for the purpose of rehabilitating society because it was an NGO that dealt specifically with displaced women. However due to unforeseen circumstances, the building ended up serving a different purpose.”
The building is understood to have been illegally occupied.
Some eye witnesses at the scene have also told SABC News that the are squatter camps and shacks within the building, causing more issues with overcrowding.
VIDEO | “There were shacks inside, R1200 rent was collected monthly, water, lights were free”
Locked security gates
Johannesburg Community Safety MMC, Mgcini Tshwaku, says several locked gates inside the building prevented people from escaping.
Tshwaku says the high death toll could have been prevented if the gates inside the building weren’t locked.
“The main reason here that there is a high death toll is that there is a lot of partitions and gates in between. They said people wanted to scream and get out but they could not. Many people’s bodies were found actually stacked on that gate. The bottom line here there is also people who had informal settlement sort of. People built using high flammable material, wood and all of that.”
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