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Three firefighters dead in Joburg CBD blaze amid fears of further fatalities

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Officials have confirmed that three firefighters have died in a blaze that engulfed the top of a Johannesburg CBD building on Wednesday.

One of the firefighters fell to their death‚ and two others were found inside the building‚ which houses the offices of the Gauteng Health and Human Settlements on Sauer Street.

Gauteng MEC for Infrastructure Development Jacob Mamabolo‚ confirmed the deaths.

But there are further fears that firefighters and civilians trapped on a ledge on the 23rd floor of the building will continue to battle soaring temperatures and strong winds as they desperately try to stop themselves from slipping off a ledge just 60cm wide.

Several firemen responded to a fire in a building in downtown Johannesburg earlier on Wednesday.

The building houses the Gauteng Health and Housing Departments as well as offices of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.

There are firefighters and civilians on the ledge‚ while a number of civilians are stuck on the roof of the building.

Earlier‚ police tried to use a helicopter to reach those trapped but have so far failed.

Wynand Engelbrecht – a former Midrand Fire Station commander who now runs Fire Ops SA said that the situation facing those who were stuck would becoming even more dire as the afternoon progressed.

“It’s going to be getting a lot hotter. When the fire initially broke out the temperatures would have been around 800 degrees Celsius. As the fire starved itself out the temperatures would have dropped to about 400 degrees Celsius‚ but with the normal heat in the city rising‚ as it does in the afternoon‚ those temperatures will be climbing. They could be back close to 800 degrees Celsius pretty soon.

“Those up draught winds will fan the fire again‚ as we are seeing. Coupled with the up-draughts‚ the hot air escaping the building from the broken windows‚ will be turning those ledges into a raging inferno. It will be noisy‚ smoky‚ hot‚ with the air filled with chocking and poisonous fumes.

Those people will be in a desperate situation. They will want to move but they can’t. Any movement will spell certain death. Coupled with these dangers will be the dangers from any windows which explode from the heat.

“It’s a complete disaster‚” he said.

Engelbrecht said from his 40 years of work as a firefighter he knew the building well.

“That building is a complete fire stack and hazard. It’s a maze of passages and the ledge that they are on is no bigger than 60cm. It’s barely wide enough for a person’s foot.”

He said the winds on the outside would be rapidly building.

“They will be strong enough to easily blow someone off. They will be gaining in strength and by now close to approximately 20km/h. Another problem is that the firemen who are stuck on the ledge will not be able to do anything to keep the civilians from falling. They will be exhausted and barely hanging on for their own lives.”

He said rescue operations would be limited.

“Helicopters are too dangerous‚ especially if you look at the force of the down draught from the rotor blades‚ which will blow those on the ledge off. The height that the people are stuck at means that there is no ladder long enough to reach them. The longest fire ladders which we have in South Africa are 60m and there are only two of these ladders in the country‚ and they are in Cape Town and Bloemfontein.

“The only way to rescue them will be to rappel from the roof of the building but that presents its own dangers. The rescuers will have to be incredibly careful not to mishandle those they are helping. Any slight mis-movement – caused by those on the ledge panicking – could see them slip and fall.

The rescuers will then have to attach themselves to those on the ledge and either lower themselves to a window on a floor which has been declared safe‚ and smash it open and get the person inside‚ or lower themselves to a height that the ladders can reach.

“It is going to be touch and go and time is not on their side.”

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Look: 4 critically injured in tanker and bus crash on N3

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Tanker and bus on fire mooi river

Four people have been injured and multiple others injured when a tanker truck, a bus and other vehicles were involved in a serious crash on N3 north just before the Hidcote off ramp in Mooi River.

Netcare 911’s Shawn Herbst said that paramedics responded to the accident scene at 15H42 on Monday afternoon.

“Netcare 911 with Nsele Ambulance Services Responded to a collision on the N3 Johannesburg bound in Hidcote KZN Midlands region.

Reports indicate that a bus, tanker and multiple cars were involved in a collision leaving four people critical and approximately fourty-four other patients with minor to serious injuries,” said Hersbt.

The fire and rescue services are currently on scene trying to extinguish the fire to determine if any deaths have occurred.

This is a developing story.

Tanker and bus on fire mooi river

Tanker bus accident hidcote

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Attorney Theasen Pillay found deceased in his Umhlanga Ridge apartment

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Attorney Theasan Pillay death

Durban – Lawyer Theasan Pillay, 47, from attorneys Theasan Pillay and Associates has been found dead in his apartment on Solstice road in Umhlanga Ridge on Friday morning.

Private security company, Reaction Unit South Africa (Rusa) reported that they received a call at 11h34 on Friday from a relative requesting assistance after he made the gruesome discovery.

Rusa officers and paramedics on arrival found Pillay in his bedroom.

He had suffered stab wounds to his arm and chest.

“It was established that Pillay left a suicide note at his offices in Umhlanga prior to leaving the premises this morning. His employees discovered the note and called him. During a telephonic conversation he assured them that he was fine and needed some time alone. They then informed his family and requested that they check on his well-being.

His brother proceeded to his apartment and gained access with a set of spare keys when he made the discovery,” said Rusa.

Pillay’s death is being investigated by the police and updates will be shared as soon as they become available.

This is a developing story.

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Leo Prinsloo guarded Kim Kardashian amongst other high profile people

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Leo Prinsloo kim Kardashian

Pretoria – The hero guard, Leo Prinsloo, once served as a guard for former President Nelson Mandela, Prince Charles and even Kim Kardashian amongst high profile people, IOL has reported.

Deon Coetzee, MD of the Fortis Group said that Prinsloo has been in various security roles for more than 30 years now, with a 12 year career in the South African Police Special Task Force.

He had extensive training, including training with Abu Dhabi’s Anti-Terrorism unit.

In the SAPS Task Force, he was a head instructor of their lone operator training.

Prinsloo and Lloyd Mthombeni became a world topic when a video was shared on social media of them being shot at by robbers.

Coetzee said the two had been escorting a van that was transporting cellphones when they came under attack on the N4 freeway in Pretoria.

He said the modus operandi of criminals is to take out both the escort vehicle and the courier vehicle.

“In the video you see what was happening to the escort vehicle. Two vehicles with three criminals in each tried to take them and Leo took evasive action,” Coetzee said.

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“The guard in the passenger seat, Lloyd Mthombeni, was just four days on the job when the incident happened,” he said.

Dash cam footage of the incident was shared thousands of times and quickly went viral on social media. The public has hugely been amazed by the bravery exhibited by Prinsloo who managed to keep his cool as bullets rained on his van.

News agencies across the globe covered the incident showing Prinsloo’s daring escape from the robbers.

Death threats

Meanwhile, Prinsloo has been placed under police guard following death threats.

Coetzee said they have had to step up security around him following the threats.

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