45 Killed After Bus Crash in South Africa

(RepublicanJournal.org) – Dozens of people have died in South Africa after a crowded bus fell off a bridge and into a ravine. The passengers were Christian pilgrims traveling to an Easter service. A child was the only survivor.

On March 28, a bus carrying 45 passengers and the driver set off from Gaborone, the capital of Botswana, and crossed into neighboring South Africa. State-owned broadcaster SABC said the bus was towing a trailer. It was heading for the Zionist Christian Church in Moria, in South Africa’s northern Limpopo province, which is a popular destination for pilgrims at Easter.

However, between the towns of Mokopane and Marken in central Limpopo, the driver lost control on an elevated section of road where the curving Mmamatlakala bridge crosses a 160-foot-deep ravine. The vehicle smashed through the safety barrier, fell to the bed of the ravine and caught fire.

The only survivor was an eight-year-old girl, who was hospitalized with serious injuries. Another woman was alive when rescue workers recovered her from the wreck, but died as she was being airlifted to the hospital. Many of the others on board were burned beyond recognition after being trapped in the wreckage and by March 31 only 34 bodies, nine of them identifiable, had been recovered.

South African authorities are still trying to confirm the nationalities of all the victims, but it’s likely they were Botswanan. The bus had Botswana registration plates and transport minister Sindisiwe Chikunga, in a statement given at the crash site the next day, said the passengers were pilgrims from Gaborone. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa sent his condolences to Botswana and promised to do what he can to support survivors.

South Africa has some of the best roads on the continent, but the safety record is appalling — and it usually spikes around Easter, when many Christians make pilgrimages. Hours before the tragedy, Ramaphosa had appealed to drivers to “make this a safe Easter.” Sadly, it wasn’t safe for everyone.

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