Zimbabwean Diplomats Visit Johannesburg Fire Victims As Death Rises To 77
Representatives from the Embassy of Zimbabwe in South Africa on Saturday visited the Diepkloof Forensic Pathology Services to establish the status of Zimbabweans believed to have died in a fire in central Johannesburg last week.
South African online publication IOL reported that the death toll from the hijacked Usindiso Building which caught fire on Thursday has now risen to 77 after one of the victims rescued from fire died in hospital.
Gauteng Department of Health’s spokesperson Motalatale Modiba was quoted as saying that more than 30 patients are still being treated in different facilities in the province. Said Modiba:
Out of the 88 patients that were seen at various health facilities – Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital, Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital, Helen Joseph Hospital, South Rand Hospital, Tembisa Hospital, Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital and Hillbrow Community Health Centre – only 31 people are still receiving care.
Of the 31 patients in admission, only five still need semi-critical care however, they are fully awake.
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The admitted patients are not impacting on the normal flow of trauma patients in facilities.
Modida also revealed that authorities are conducting post-mortems on 74 bodies that were burnt in the apartheid-era Central Pass Office. He said:
As more families come forth to report their loved ones who might have perished in the fire incident, the Gauteng Department of Health can confirm that it is on track to complete conducting post-mortems on the 74 deceased bodies.
By Saturday evening, the pathologist had done post-mortems on 58 bodies and were only left with 16 to be concluded on Sunday (today).
There are 62 unidentifiable bodies at the Diepkloof Forensic Pathology Services mortuary and 12 identifiable corpses.
Modiba also said 40 families have so far visited the facility to report their loved ones which has resulted in a line list of 66 names that possibly died in the fire being developed. He said:
Nine families have already identified their loved ones from the 12 identifiable bodies.
Once the families conclude the necessary processes and produce the required identification documents the mortal remains will be released to them for burial.
The building at 80 Albert Street which fire last Thursday resulting in multiple deaths is owned by the City of Joburg.
It is situated on the corner of Delvers Street and was officially opened in 1954 as the “Non-European Affairs Department” and served as the Central Pass Office.
The building previously housed the Usindiso Ministries Women’s Shelter before it was hijacked by syndicates.
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