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Twelve people killed in Johannesburg building fire

Written by: Staff
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JOHANNESBURG, Mar 29 (Reuters) Twelve people died when fire broke out in an illegally occupied building in downtown Johannesburg today, emergency officials said.

''We had to remove 12 bodies. They died from traumatic asphyxia,'' emergency services spokesman Malcolm Midgley said.

He said residents struggled to flee the blaze after blocking an escape route with possessions they had tried to salvage.

About 33 people were taken to hospital with varying degrees of injuries.

The cause of the fire at 0100 hrs (0830 hrs IST) today was unclear but Midgley said it was possible it was caused by a heater.

The incident highlights a housing crisis in the inner city of South Africa's financial capital, which is riddled with disused or crumbling buildings where desperate homeless people often seek shelter.

REUTERS SB RAI1413

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