Fire guts building in Johannesburg, kill 63

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Scores of people have been confirmed dead after fire razed a five-storey building in the central area of Johannesburg, South Africa’s biggest city.

According to the city’s emergency services, the fire that started on Thursday morning has taken 63 lives, including a toddler.

At least 48 persons have been reported to have been injured.

Videos from the scene posted on social media showed huge orange flames lighting up a pitch-black skyline, while a crowd that had fled outside wandered around in confusion.

Fire trucks and ambulances outside the building with burned-out windows, which had been cordoned off by police, can also be seen in the videos.

Robert Mulaudzi, the city’s emergency services spokesperson, said firefighters were alerted at about 1.30am.

Mulaudzi said it was likely the death toll would rise as a search and recovery operation is still underway.

He added that it was not immediately clear what caused the inferno.

“It’s a five-storey building which caught fire in the early hours of this morning. We managed to evacuate the people who were inside the building as soon as we arrived while we were conducting firefighting operations,” he said.

“At this stage, the cause of the fire is still a subject of investigations.”

Mulaudzi said the fire had been contained and that the city’s disaster management had been activated to start facilitating relief for affected families.