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8-year-old girl survives South Africa bridge bus crash that killed 45

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A transit accident in South Africa killed 45 people after a bus hit and plunged over the barrier of a bridge into a ravine, where it caught on fire, the nation’s transport department said Thursday. The only survivor was an 8-year-old girl, authorities said.

Footage of the scene broadcast by local news channel eNCA shows a charred, mangled bus at the bottom of a rocky ditch in a mountainous area near Mokopane, South Africa. Journalist Heidi Giokos from the outlet posted aerial footage showing the suspended section of the R518 road. The bus fell about 50 meters after going over the barrier.

The cause of the crash is under investigation, said South Africa’s Transport Minister, Sindisiwe Chikunga.

“Some bodies were burned beyond recognition,” the Department of Transport and Community Safety of Limpopo said in a statement. Others were trapped by debris, while some were scattered around the rocky crash scene, the department added. The 8-year-old survivor was brought to a hospital.

Another woman died after she was airlifted from the crash scene, Chikunga told eNCA.

The bus is believed to have been traveling from Botswana to Moria, a town in South Africa’s northeastern Limpopo province, the South African Transportation Department said in a statement. The 46 passengers were reportedly headed to an Easter weekend church service, according to Limpopo transportation officials.

“I am sending my heartfelt condolences to the families affected by the tragic bus crash,” Chikunga said at the scene of the accident, according to a statement from her department. “Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time.”

The minister urged “responsible driving at all times with heightened alertness” given that more people are on the roads during Easter weekend. The minister had announced the launch of an “Easter Road Safety Campaign” only eight days prior, citing increased danger due to heavier traffic and holiday festivities. The campaign began with prayer sessions at various locations where accidents are common, the government said.

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