S/African authorities say all 45 dead persons in bus tragedy suspected to be pilgrims from Botswana


SOUTH AFRICA – Worshippers involved in a road crash in South Africa, leaving at least 45 dead, were coming from Botswana.

A bus carrying worshippers on a long-distance trip from Botswana to an Easter weekend church gathering in South Africa plunged off a bridge on a mountain pass Thursday and burst into flames as it hit the rocky ground below, authorities said.

Search operations were ongoing, the provincial government said, but many bodies were burned beyond recognition and trapped inside the vehicle, while others had been thrown from the bus.

Read more: Bus carrying Easter worshippers falls off cliff killing 45 people in South Africa

The crash happened near the town of Mokopane, which is about 200 kilometres (125 miles) north of the South African capital, Pretoria.

According to the Observer, South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, said the victims appeared to be all from Botswana and had been on their way to the town of Moria in Limpopo for a popular Easter weekend pilgrimage that attracts hundreds of thousands of worshippers from South Africa and neighbouring countries who follow the Zion Christian Church.

Ramaphosa had reportedly phoned Botswana President, Mokgweetsi Masisi, to offer his condolences and said the South African government would do all it could to help.

This was according to a statement from Ramaphosa’s office.

Provincial authorities said the bus had a Botswana license plate.

The South African government often warns motorists to be cautious during the Easter holidays, which was a particularly busy and dangerous time for road travel.
More than 200 people died in road crashes during the Easter weekend last year.

Just a day before the bus crash, the South African government called on people to be extra careful on Thursday and Friday because of the expected high volumes travelling by road to Moria.

The Zion Christian Church has its headquarters in Moria and this year is the first time its Easter pilgrimage is set to go ahead since the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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