At least 45 people killed and one survivor after South Africa’s bus crash

An eight-year-old girl survived and was airlifted to hospital to receive medical treatment.

A bus has plunged off a bridge into a ravine in South Africa, killing 45 of the 46 passengers on board, according to the Department of Transport.

The only survivor, an eight-year-old girl, was airlifted to hospital but has not suffered serious injuries, according to a transport ministry media officer.

South Africa bus crash
A view of the burnt remains of the bus that was taking Easter pilgrims from Botswana to Moria, following its crash near Mamatlakala in the northern province of Limpopo, South Africa March 29, 2024 [Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters]

Police have said they are investigating a case of culpable homicide, with the driver among the dead after allegedly losing control and crashing through the barriers on a bridge in a mountainous area near Mamatlakala, 300 kilometres (190 miles) north of Johannesburg.

The bus plunged 50 metres (164 feet) into a ravine before bursting into flames.

The bus was on its way from neighbouring Botswana to Moria, a town in northern Limpopo province that holds a popular Easter festival. Easter Sunday falls on March 31 this year.

South African police confirmed that 15 men and 31 women on board were Botswana citizens.

Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga travelled to the scene of the crash and promised a full inquiry.

“We want really to extend our heartfelt condolences to the families but also to the government of Botswana and to the people of Botswana, and as South Africa, we will try everything to assist so that they go back to their country and families to be buried with dignity,” she was quoted as saying by national broadcaster SABC.

Transport ministry media officer Vongani Chauke told the news agency AFP that family members were “coming to the country to visit the surviving girl.”

“She’s fine, receiving medical attention and does not have serious injuries,” he said.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa sent his condolences to Botswana and promised support, his office said in a statement.

Search operations were continuing at the site, but many bodies were burned beyond recognition and were still trapped inside the vehicle.

While South Africa has one of the African continent’s most developed road networks, it also has one of the worst safety records.

A few hours before the crash, Ramaphosa had appealed to South Africans to take care when travelling during the Easter holidays.

“Let’s do our best to make this a safe Easter. Easter does not have to be a time where we sit back and wait to see statistics on tragedy or injuries on our roads,” he had said in a statement.

The president of Estonia, Alar Karis, took to X to extend “heartfelt condolences” to Masisi, adding that he was “deeply saddened by the news”.

The Turkish embassy in Gaborone said on X its “thoughts are with the families affected by this tragedy”.


Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies