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45 dead in bus plunge off bridge in South Africa

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45 dead in bus plunge off bridge in South Africa

By Amy Cassidy | CNN

Dozens of worshippers died after a bus headed to an Easter conference plunged off a cliff in South Africa’s Limpopo province on Thursday.

The crash claimed the lives of 45 people and one is seriously injured, the country’s transport department said in a statement.

The sole survivor is an eight-year-old girl who has been airlifted to hospital, the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) reported.

According to the SABC, the passengers were pilgrims traveling from Gaborone – the capital city of neighboring country Botswana – to a church for an Easter conference.

The crash happened in the Mamatlakala mountain pass between Mokopane and Marken. The bus reportedly caught fire after falling.

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

In a statement, the province’s transport department said that “according to reports, the driver lost control and the bus fell onto a rocky surface, some 50 meters under the bridge and caught fire.”

Efforts are ongoing to recover the bodies of the passengers who were killed, according to the statement.

“Some bodies burned beyond recognition,” the local department said. Others are “trapped inside the debris and others [are] scattered on the scene,” it added.

South African Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga said the government would repatriate the bodies to Botswana, the broadcaster said.

“I am sending my heartfelt condolences to the families affected by the tragic bus crash near Mamatlakala. Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time. We continue to urge responsible driving at all times with heightened alertness as more people are on our roads this Easter weekend,” Chikunga said in a statement.

This is a developing story and will be updated.



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