At least 21 people were killed in a bus accident in the Eastern Cape on Monday, the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) has said.
The bus was travelling on a gravel road near the Tafalofefe Hospital on Monday morning around 08:00 when it overturned, said RTMC spokesperson Simon Zwane.
“The Marcopolo bus was travelling from Chebe, picking passengers at locations along the road to Butterworth,” he said.
While the exact cause of the crash was not known, Zwane said the driver reportedly lost control of the bus in the bushes down a steep area.
The final number of casualties has yet to be confirmed. Earlier on Monday, Zwane said 20 people were injured.
Eastern Cape Department of Health spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said they had dispatched two helicopters and ambulances after hearing about the accident between Mazeppa Bay and Cebe.
“Because of the terrain where the accident happened, our helicopters cannot land. Our ambulances are on the ground while others are on their way to the scene of the accident.”
First responders reported spotting at least 10 bodies which appeared to have been thrown from the bus when it rolled.
“We have instructed hospitals in Mthatha and East London to keep beds unoccupied in anticipation that those who might be injured will be transferred there. As soon as the search and rescue mission has been completed, we will keep people informed as to where they should go to see their loved ones.”
The first passenger to be airlifted to East London was a critically injured three-year-old boy.
This story has been updated to reflect an increase in the death toll from 15 to 21 people.