Police with sniffer dogs searched through the gutted remains of a Johannesburg apartment block on Friday, as authorities stepped up investigations into the cause of a fire that killed more than 70 people.
Officers used razor wire to cordon off areas around the run-down five-storey building that was destroyed in a blaze in the early hours of Thursday in one of South Africa’s worst such disasters in living memory.
Addressing journalists while visiting the injured at a hospital, Health Minister Joe Phaahla said the death toll had now risen to 76.
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Forensics say most of the bodies were burned beyond recognition and investigators would have to rely on DNA samples from relatives to identify them, said Thembalethu Mpahlaza, from Gauteng province’s Forensic Pathology Services.
Only 12 bodies so far recovered were identifiable by sight, he added. Many of the residents were immigrants and foreign workers.
Malawi’s foreign ministry said more than 20 of its citizens died in the blaze.
Editor Oloyede Oworu