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45 dead as bus heading to Easter festival falls off cliff in South Africa

The bus was carrying people to an Easter church service when it fell off a bridge and plunged 165 feet into a ravine.

At least 45 pilgrims lost their lives in South Africa when a bus carrying worshippers from Botswana to an Easter weekend church gathering plunged off a bridge on a mountain pass and burst into flames.

The only survivor was an 8-year-old child in Thursday’s incident. The girl was receiving medical attention for serious injuries.

The provincial government of Limpopo said the bus swerved off the Mmamatlakala Bridge and fell 50 meters into a ravine where it caught fire after hitting the rocky ground below.

Authorities said the girl, whose name has not been revealed, was receiving medical treatment, after being seriously injured in the incident.

Search efforts were launched immediately; however, numerous bodies were charred beyond identification and remained trapped within the vehicle.

According to officials, the bus was en route from the adjacent nation of Botswana to the city of Moria, known for its well-attended Easter pilgrimage. Reports said the driver seemed to have lost control and was among those who perished.

The office of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa conveyed his condolences to Botswana and assured the country of his support. Prior to the accident, he had urged South Africans to exercise caution while traveling during the Easter week.

Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga who visited the crash scene said there was an investigation underway into the cause of the crash.

Last year, more than 200 people died in road crashes during the Easter weekend.

The headquarters of the Zionist Christian Church is located in Moria, where its Easter pilgrimage draws in hundreds of thousands of attendees from South Africa and nearby nations. This will be the inaugural Easter pilgrimage to Moria following the COVID-19 pandemic.

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