Pat least 74 people died following a fire in a building in Johannesburg, South Africa. According to the most recent balance, 12 children are among the fatalities and dozens of other people were injured.

Although officially abandoned, the five-story building was illegally occupied. South African police are already investigating the causes of the fire.

Wiseman Mpepa is one of the survivors of this tragedy, and he told CNN International that he woke up to the screams of people.

Although he still tried to get out, the fire blocked access, and he ended up breaking the window, with which he faced some difficulties.

In the middle of this scenario, he tried to warn other people to leave through the gate, but it was closed. “They closed the gate. After that, I was without a plan.”refers to the publication, recalling the moments when he was in his room.

Mpepe was in the building, occupied by migrants or South Africans who can’t afford a home, with his sister and brother-in-law – but he told CNN he doesn’t know where they are.

The man ended up passing out due to smoke inhalation, and does not remember how he was removed from the building. “The smoke was coming in and I passed out. From then on, I don’t remember anything,” he pointed out.

South African police announced an investigation into the causes of the fire.

News by the Minute | 13:07 – 08/31/2023

Another witness corroborated that there were accesses to the building, such as the fire escape, closed. “There were a lot of people and smoke. People suffocated. A lot of people died because of the smoke, and because there was a lot of pressure on the gates, some closed,” she told Reuters.

Omar Foart, from Malawi, another survivor, said that one of the victims was his sister. “I lost my sister. I’ve already lost three sisters,” he told the news agency.

The man recalled that both his sister and brother-in-law saved their daughter, breaking a window and “throwing her to the people outside, who caught her”.

This tragedy has already been lamented both by those responsible in South Africa, as well as by Portugal. The President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, sent “a message of condolences” to the President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, after the fire.

“Given the dramatic consequences of the fire that destroyed a building in the commercial area of ​​Johannesburg yesterday, the President of the Republic sent a message of condolences to the President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, expressing condolences to the families of the fatal victims and wishes for a speedy best wishes to all those injured, as well as their solidarity with all the South African people”, reads the message from Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.

Read also: Fire in Johannesburg is a “wake-up call” for the government of South Africa

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