Relief efforts underway after Alexandra fire displaces hundreds of people

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JOHANNESBURG, December 7 – Relief efforts were underway on Friday at Johannesburg’s Alexandra township after a fire razed scores of shacks to the ground the previous afternoon, leaving hundreds of people without shelter, food and clothes.

Aid group Gift of the Givers said its teams were on site in the area. It said it had moved a mother who had given birth a day earlier, and another with four children who lost everything in the fire, to its logistics centre in Bramley.

“Exact details as to the cause, loss of lives, number of homes destroyed, numbers of people displaced, the extent of the material loss is not quantifiable currently,” the aid group said.

“Our teams are registering the rest of the victims and transporting them to a nearby hall where we are providing food, bottled water, blankets and mattresses. During the course of today, further appropriate interventions will be affected.”

Johannesburg Emergency Management Services (EMS) spokeswoman Nana Radebe said there were no fatalities or injuries as a direct result of the fire.

“It is alleged two people were fighting when the fire started but police are yet to investigate and confirm the issue,” she told African News Agency.

Emergency services were still compiling a list of families displaced by the fire, which Radebe said had been completely put out.

Independent Online (IOL) reported that a man had died from injuries sustained when a mob attacked him over starting the fire.

IOL quoted police spokesperson Captain Steve Malatji as saying the man died on his way to the hospital and that a manslaughter investigation was underway. African News Agency was not able to immediately confirm the report.

The Johannesburg EMS said via its Twitter account a number of teams were on site in Alexandra, helping displaced families with shelter, food and blankets. It said temporary shelter had been activated at Eastbank community hall.

Private security firm Vision Tactical said its team would remain on site to assist with assessments of the damage and provide some relief to victims.

– African News Agency (ANA)