Fire (illustration)
Fire (illustration)Istock

At least 73 people have been killed in a fire in a five-story building in Johannesburg, South Africa Thursday.

The building was used as a shelter for hundreds of homeless people.

Authorities said that a number of people died after they threw themselves out of windows on the upper floors to escape the flames and smoke.

A number of children are among the dead, the youngest of whom was just one year old.

At least 43 other people were injured in the blaze. Authorities expect the death toll to rise further as the building is searched for bodies.

The fire broke out at about 1 am Thursday morning when many of the victims were asleep. The cause of the fire remains unclear. Authorities to not suspect deliberate arson at this point.

The building is one of many "hijacked" buildings in Johannesburg, a term referring to buildings abandoned by their landlord that have been taken over by gangs to lease to disadvantaged people who cannot afford other accommodations.