A Tanzanian woman has died in the fire that swept through Lusaka’s COMESA market Thursday night.

Kissa Wison Mwakasiyah, a Kanyama resident, died due to suffocation after she attempted to salvage some goods from her shop.

Local Government Minister Vincent Mwale told Parliament in a ministerial statement that over 1,500 stores had been affected, representing 80 percent of the market.

Mwale said fire started around 19:30 hours but that the Fire Brigade was only informed around 20:30 Hours.

He dismissed assertions that Mwakasiyah died whilst sleeping in her store, revealing that several other people had attempted to loot or save some of their goods but ended up suffocating.

In Mwakasiyah’s case, Mwale said the smoke had affected most of her organs by the time she arrived at the hospital; leading to her death.

Meanwhile, addressing COMESA traders this morning, President Edgar Lungu encouraged them to be strong and directed Mwale to work with Lusaka Province Minister Bowman Lusambo to find alternative trading places.

“Things are not okay. A few days ago there was a fire at Soweto Market and then there was a fire at Buteko Market and then here also. I can only say that I am heart broken myself. I have no words to describe the agony that I feel. A lot of people are affected which means a lot of families are affected and we are all affected. But let me assure you that the government will leave no stones unturned in finding out the cause of these fires and also trying to learn from the fires so that in future, we avoid this kind of loss. I am asking the provincial minister Mr Lusambo to work with the Local Government Minister Mr Vincent Mwale so that the city council finds an alternative place for these people to be relocated,” President Lungu said.

He said the only reason why the fire spread so wide was that the Fire Brigade failed to access the source due to the structure of the market hence the need to build better markets.

“Let us learn from this so that the markets that we are constructing are built to be fire resistant, fire proof and accessible. Because what made the fire spread this much is that the fire brigade failed to get to where the fire was. It took a lot of effort to break and destroy buildings to reach where the fire was coming from. So those things should be lessons. I am actually very disappointed, very grieved, I don’t even know what to say because I was following this event from around 21:00 hours when I was alerted up to 04 this morning. And may the soul of the dear lady who has passed on rest in peace. I just want to strengthen you by saying it is not over, we shall work together and come out stronger. God will give us the strength,” Said President Lungu.