People Jump Out of Windows to Escape Shopping Mall Fire

People jumped out the windows of a mall in Durban, South Africa, after the building caught fire on Friday morning. Some 13 people were injured.

The fire was reported at China Mall in West Street in Durban's central business district, shortly after 10:00 a.m. Friday, according to EMER-G-MED spokesperson Kyle van Reenen.

Van Reenen said 13 people had been injured and that many of them were Chinese nationals.

The injured have been treated for their injuries, which range from minor to moderate, at nearby hospitals, van Reenan confirmed.

Two fire engines are at the scene, he added.

"At this stage, the cause of the fire is unknown and will form the subject of a South African Police Services investigation," Van Reenen said in a statement.

"Two people have been rescued from the upper floors and are being attended to by paramedics. They are in a moderate condition. It is believed that all occupants have been rescued however final sweeps are being conducted floor by floor," Van Reenen told the South African new channel News24.

Two people sustained moderate burn injuries while a third was injured after jumping from a window, Garrith Jamieson of ALS Paramedics said.

Van Reenan told Newsweek that when his team arrived on the scene, people in the mall were using package strapping to "abseil" down to the ground and escape the fire.

Videos circulating online show large black plumes of smoke coming from the building. Another video depicts crowds gathering outside the mall and those on the streets below trying to help people come down using a rope.

Van Reenen said in his statement that the fire broke out on one of the floors of the complex, and Ethekwini Fire and Rescue services, together with Metro Police and South African Police Service Search and Rescue, had to use high-rise ladders to gain access to rescue victims.

Van Reenan confirmed to Newsweek that everyone is out of the mall now, but firefighters are still trying to contain the blaze.

Only last July, Durban was the flashpoint of some of South Africa's worst riots in its democratic history, which claimed the lives of 337 people. Dozens of malls were damaged, ransacked, looted and set on fire after a political protest against the government turned opportunistic, laying bare South Africa's wide economic inequality. More than 200 shopping centers and 100 malls were looted or burned, while at least 1,400 ATMs were damaged and 300 banks and post offices were vandalized in KwaZulu-Natal, the southeastern province that Durban is in.

Durban fire
A photo of emergency services at the scene of a fire on Friday 21 January, at the China Mall in Durban, South Africa. EMER-G-MED/EMER-G-MED