75 Johannesburg fire deaths, Putin consoles Ramaphosa Building on fire in the Johannesburg CBD. Photo credit: SowetanLive

Bongani Ndlovu, Online Reporter

RUSSIAN President Vladimir Putin has sent a condolence message to his South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa following the death of over 70 people during a fire incident in a Johannesburg building.

At least 75 people, including a one-year-old baby, have been confirmed dead in a devastating blaze that broke out inside a five-story building in central Johannesburg on Thursday morning.

Some of the people living in a maze of shacks and other makeshift structures inside the building threw themselves out of windows to escape the fire – one of the worst in South Africa’s history.

President Vladimir Putin – pic cred Russian Foreign Ministry

In a statement shared by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, President Putin said he sympathizes with the victims and their families.

“Vladimir Putin conveyed his condolences to President of the Republic of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa on the tragic consequences of the fire in Johannesburg.

“The President of Russia requested that his sympathy and support be conveyed to the families and friends of the victims, as well as wishes for a speedy recovery to all the injured,” reads the statement.

Reports suggest that as many as 200 people lived in the building, which was an “informal settlement” housing homeless people while they looked for permanent accommodation.

Officials on Thursday said some of the victims may have been renting rooms in the building from criminal gangs.

Seven of the victims were children, including the one-year-old, according to an emergency services spokesperson.

Around 52 people have been injured in the fire in Marshalltown as a search-and-recovery operation is underway as authorities said they were expecting the death toll to rise.

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