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South Africa bus crash kills 45 Easter pilgrims

A bus carrying worshippers headed to an Easter festival plunged off a bridge on a mountain pass and burst into flames in South Africa, killing at least 45 people.

The only survivor of the crash was an eight-year-old child, who was receiving medical attention, according to authorities in the northern province of Limpopo.

They said the child was seriously injured.

The Limpopo provincial government said the bus veered off the Mmamatlakala bridge on Thursday and plunged 50 metres into a ravine before bursting into flames.

Search operations continued, the provincial government said, but many bodies were burned beyond recognition and still trapped inside the vehicle.

Authorities said they believed the bus was travelling from the neighbouring country of Botswana to the town of Moria, which hosts a popular Easter pilgrimage.

They said it appeared that the driver lost control and was one of the dead.

Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga was in Limpopo province for a road safety campaign and changed plans to visit the crash scene, the national Department of Transport said.

She said there was an investigation under way into the cause of the crash and offered her condolences to the families of the victims.

The South African government often warns of the danger of road accidents during the Easter holidays, which is a particularly busy and dangerous time for road travel.

More than 200 people died in road crashes during the Easter weekend in 2024.

The Zionist Christian Church has its headquarters in Moria and its Easter pilgrimage attracts hundreds of thousands of people from across South Africa and neighbouring countries.

This year is the first time the Easter pilgrimage to Moria is set to go ahead since the COVID-19 pandemic.