Johannesburg fire – latest: Babies among 73 killed in one of the worst blazes in South Africa’s history

At least 73 people, including a one-year-old baby, have died in a devastating blaze that broke out inside a five-storey 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.

Reports suggest 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 videos captured at the scene show raging flames consuming the lower level of the building.

A search-and-recovery operation is underway as authorities said they were expecting the death toll to rise.

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