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Two die, 3,000 homeless in SAfrica shack fire

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Cape Town: Two people died and about 3,000 were left homeless when a fire destroyed 800 shacks at the Masiphumelele informal settlement in Cape Town today, officials said.

“Disaster risk management and the South African Red Cross Service are on scene to co-ordinate relief efforts including providing food, baby packs, mattresses and blankets,” mayor Patricia de Lille said in a statement.

“At this stage the cause of the fire is unknown and the incident was handed over to the South African Police Service for investigation.”

The settlement, near Fish Hoek on the Southern Peninsula, has recently been rocked by vigilante killings carried out by residents who complain of a lack of policing in the area.

Shack fires are a perennial threat to the impoverished residents of sprawling informal settlements near major cities throughout South Africa.