45 die in bus crash in South Africa; 8-year-old sole survivor

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Johannesburg, Mar 29 (PTI) Only nine of the 34 bodies which had been recovered were identifiable on Friday from the horrific crash that saw 45 Easter pilgrims from Botswana dead in a bus crash in South Africa’s northern province of Limpopo.

An eight-year-old child is the sole survivor of the Thursday’s accident when the bus drove off the railing of a bridge and burst into flames in a mountainous region near Mokopane town, about 270 km northeast from here.

The deceased were all from the neighbouring Botswana and were on their way to an annual Easter gathering of the Zionist Christian Church (ZCC) headquarters at Moria in Limpopo province, where over two million congregants from the southern African region assemble each year at this time.

The driver apparently lost control of the bus, which led to it plunging off the bridge into a ravine more than 150 feet deep and immediately bursting into flames. He was among the dead.

“According to the passenger bus list from the owner, who is also a Botswana citizen, there were 31 females and 15 males on board the 45-seater taxi. All passengers were from a village called Molepolole, near Gaborone,” police spokesperson Brigadier Athlenda Mathe told the media.

She said that recovery efforts were continuing to comb the scene for more bodies, adding that a case of culpable homicide had been opened by the police.

“Interpol NCB Pretoria will continue to liaise with and update Interpol NCB Gaborone on the process to identify and repatriate the remains of the deceased,” Mathe said.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa conveyed his condolences to the Republic of Botswana and to the family and friends of the 45 bus crash victims.

In a call to Botswana’s President Mokgweetsi Masisi , Ramaphosa pledged continued support of the South African government during this time of need for the people of Botswana.

President Masisi expressed his gratitude for the cooperation that the government of Botswana has received from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), as well as from the provincial and local government structures, Ramaphosa’s office said. PTI FH NPK NPK