11 die in inferno

TRAGEDY SCENE: Police officers at the scene of the deadly inferno that claimed the lives of 11 people, including eight children. The Hope in Christ Orphanage near Newcastle in northern KwaZulu-Natal was completely gutted by fire yesterday. The property was used as an orphanage after it was donated by Farah Holand, who also perished in the inferno. Pic. Jackie Clausen. 09/02/2010. © Sunday Times.
TRAGEDY SCENE: Police officers at the scene of the deadly inferno that claimed the lives of 11 people, including eight children. The Hope in Christ Orphanage near Newcastle in northern KwaZulu-Natal was completely gutted by fire yesterday. The property was used as an orphanage after it was donated by Farah Holand, who also perished in the inferno. Pic. Jackie Clausen. 09/02/2010. © Sunday Times.

ELEVEN people, including eight children, perished in a fire that gutted the Hope in Christ Orphanage at Ingogo in Newcastle, northern KwaZulu-Natal, yesterday.

ELEVEN people, including eight children, perished in a fire that gutted the Hope in Christ Orphanage at Ingogo in Newcastle, northern KwaZulu-Natal, yesterday.

Residents told of their shock when they woke up to raging flames and later the horrific sight as police retrieved the burnt bodies.

Nine others, including seven orphans, survived the inferno and were taken to Newcastle Hospital where they were treated for shock and smoke inhalation.

Emergency and rescue personnel battled to put out the blaze that lasted more than two hours. Survivors could not explain how the fire started.

Among the dead is the owner of the home Farah Holand and her son Michael, her granddaughter Nicole and twin grandsons Joshua and Justin.

Holand had allegedly donated her home to care for orphans in the community.

The home was not registered by the Department of Social Development but was used as a place of safety.

Locals said sponsors and some foster care grants assisted with the monthly running of the home.

Neighbour Tholakele Mbatha said she was on her way to work at about 6am when she heard people screaming for help.

"I then noticed smoke coming from Holand's house. When I went closer, I noticed that the house was on fire but I could not help because the flames were strong.

"I saw some people running out of the house coughing and screaming," said Mbatha.

Police spokesperson Jay Naicker said they received a call from a member of the community informing them of the fire.

"The police, fire department and other emergency services battled to extinguish the fire.

"After the fire was extinguished we recovered 11 bodies, eight of which seemed to be those of children," he said.

Naicker said nine people who were in the house escaped the inferno and were taken to hospital.

"The deceased were burnt beyond recognition. It's not clear how many people were in the house but police were sifting through the ruins to establish if there are more bodies," he said.

Naicker said experts from Pretoria were called to the scene to investigate the cause of the fire. He said police would open inquest and arson dockets.

Hospital chief executive officer Vukile Mavundla confirmed that two adults and seven children were brought to their casualty department by an ambulance yesterday morning.

"None of the patients brought to casualty sustained any burns. They had suffered severe shock and smoke inhalation.

"They were all admitted for observation," he said.

Social development MEC Meshack Radebe said a team of senior provincial government officials had been dispatched to the scene.

"We will assess the damage and determine the number of people killed or injured in the fire.

"We shall make every resource available to assist where we can," Radebe said

No names have been released as the home's records were destroyed.

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