Six Tanzanians confirmed dead in J’burg building fire

SOUTH AFRICA: SIX Tanzanians have been confirmed dead following last week’s fire at a derelict building in downtown Johannesburg that claimed the lives of at least 77 people in one of South Africa’s worst tragedies.

Tanzania High Commissioner to South Africa, Major General (rtd) Gaudence Milanzi told the ‘Daily News’ via a telephone conversation that the victims’ bodies were burned beyond recognition.

“It is true that six Tanzanians have so far been confirmed as among 77 people who lost their lives during the fire incident. Many bodies have been burnt beyond recognition, that it would require DNA analysis to be identified positively,” said the High Commissioner.

Major General (rtd) Milanzi said the six Tanzanians were certainly confirmed among the casualties during the fatal inferno though their bodies were yet to be recognised.

At least 12 of the victims of the nighttime fire were children, and 88 other people were injured, while scores have been left homeless.

According to  Tanzania High Commissioner, the matter was still being handled by the host government, which has already announced an official inquiry into the deadly blaze.

The fire ripped through a city-owned building that had effectively been abandoned by authorities and taken over by unofficial “landlords” who were illegally renting out space to around 200 poor families desperately looking for some form of accommodation, said reports in Johannesburg.

Sources claim that people were living in shacks and other informal structures crammed into the five-story building, including in the basement parking garage.

The crowding and lack of proper fire escape routes likely contributed to the large number of deaths, emergency services said.

Some people jumped out of windows three or four stories high in an attempt to escape the blaze, witnesses said.

The High Commissioner noted that one, the challenges they have been encountering is the failure by some Tanzanian citizens to report to the High Commission, hence lacking official statistics of Tanzanians residing in South Africa.

“We are collaborating with leaders of associations of Tanzanians in various cities and we educate them and try to address this challenge,” said Maj Gen (rtd) Milanzi.

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