Bus falls from bridge in South Africa and erupts into flames, killing at least 45 and leaving child, 8, as lone survivor

28 March 2024, 20:31 | Updated: 29 March 2024, 07:47

Firefighters at the scene of a bus crash in Limpopo
Firefighters at the scene of a bus crash in Limpopo. Picture: Limpopo Department of Transport and Community Safety

By Christian Oliver

A bus has plunged off a bridge in South Africa, killing 45 people and leaving a child, 8, as the lone survivor.

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The child, a young girl, is in serious condition and is being treated in hospital, the transport ministry said in a statement.

The driver lost control of the bus, which had 46 passengers on board, and the vehicle fell from a bridge down 50m and burst into flames.

Firefighters arrived on the scene, near Mamatlakala in the northeast province of Limpopo, to put out the flames as part of the rescue operation.

The bus had been travelling from Botswana to Moria in Limpopo. The journey was reportedly for an Easter weekend church service.

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Firefighters and emergency responders tried to recover bodies from the scene but many were burned beyond recognition.

Others were trapped within the debris. The rescue operation was called off late Thursday evening.

Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga arrived at the site where she expressed her condolences to the victims' families and to the Botswana government.

"I am sending my heartfelt condolences to the families affected by the tragic bus crash, near Mamatlakala," the minister said.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time. With heightened alertness, we continue to urge responsible driving at all times as more people are on our roads this Easter weekend."