Investigators are scouring the site of a tragic bus accident in South Africa, where a bus carrying pilgrims to an Easter gathering veered off a bridge, resulting in at least 45 fatalities. The only survivor, an 8-year-old child, was found amidst the wreckage.

The incident occurred on Thursday afternoon in a mountainous area near Mokopane, approximately 200 kilometers north of Pretoria. According to authorities, the bus lost control, crashed into the bridge’s barriers, and plummeted 50 meters into a ravine. The driver, among the deceased, was believed to have lost control of the vehicle.

Local resident Simone Mayema described the harrowing scene, where flames prevented bystanders from rendering aid to the victims. Many bodies, some charred beyond recognition, remained trapped inside the bus, while others were ejected upon impact.

Forensic teams commenced investigations early Friday, recovering some bodies but suspecting others remain within the charred remains of the bus. Details regarding the condition of the surviving child were not immediately available.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa extended condolences, noting that the victims were pilgrims from Botswana en route to Moria in Limpopo for Easter observances. Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga pledged an inquiry into the crash and expressed sympathies to the families affected.

The crash underscores the dangers of Easter holiday travel in South Africa, with millions of people traversing roads during the festive season. Last year, over 200 fatalities were reported during Easter weekend, prompting authorities to issue cautionary advisories.

The tragedy occurred just before the anticipated Easter pilgrimage of the Zion Christian Church, marking the first such event since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pilgrimage holds significant cultural and religious importance, drawing worshippers from across the region to Moria.

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