Bus plunges from bridge, killing forty-five passengers

MOKOPANE, SOUTH AFRICA – A catastrophic bus accident occurred on Thursday, when a vehicle carrying worshippers from Botswana to a church gathering in South Africa for the Easter weekend plummeted off a bridge and was engulfed in flames upon impact. The tragic incident claimed the lives of at least 45 people, with the sole survivor being an 8-year-old child who is currently receiving medical care for severe injuries.

The Limpopo provincial government reported that the bus, having veered off the Mmamatlakala bridge in northern South Africa, plunged 164 feet into a ravine before being consumed by fire. The crash site was near the town of Mokopane, approximately 125 miles north of Pretoria, the South African capital.

Rescue operations are ongoing, but the intense fire has left many victims unrecognizable and trapped within the vehicle wreckage. Some bodies were found outside the bus, having been ejected during the crash.

In the aftermath of the disaster, smoke could be seen emanating from the twisted, charred remains of the bus under the concrete bridge. Preliminary investigations suggest the driver lost control, causing the bus to collide with the bridge barriers before plunging over the edge. The driver was among the deceased.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa expressed that the victims were likely all from Botswana, traveling to the town of Moria in Limpopo for a large Easter weekend pilgrimage hosted by the Zion Christian Church. The event attracts hundreds of thousands of worshippers from South Africa and neighboring countries. Ramaphosa has reached out to Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi to offer condolences and pledged the South African government’s assistance.

The Minister of Transport, Sindisiwe Chikunga, was in the Limpopo province for a road safety campaign and redirected to the crash site upon hearing the devastating news. An investigation into the cause of the crash is underway, and Chikunga offered her condolences to the bereaved families.

The South African government routinely cautions motorists to exercise care during the Easter holidays, a period known for heavy traffic and increased risk of accidents. Last year, over 200 people lost their lives in road crashes during the Easter weekend. The day before this tragic incident, the government had issued a warning for extra caution due to the high volume of travelers heading to Moria.