A girl, 8, is the only one who survived while 45 died in the bus accident

At least 45 people have died in South Africa after the bus they were on plunged 50m (165ft) off a bridge into a river, officials said.

An eight-year-old girl, who is the only survivor, was seriously injured but is now safe.

The bus had an accident on the road and burst into flames after hitting the ground in the north-east of Limpopo.

Thirty-four bags have been recovered from the scene but only nine bodies have been identified, officials said.

The people were pilgrims from the capital of Botswana, Gaborone, to the Easter ceremony in the town of Moria.

The car lost control and plunged off a bridge on Mount Mmamatlakala between Mokopane and Marken, about 300km (190 miles) north of Johannesburg, according to South Africa’s SABC radio station.

Transport spokesperson Colin Msibi told BBC Newsday that the girl who survived is in hospital, I have been told she is fine.

“What we suspect is that when the bus hit the pillar of the bridge, the child was pulled out of the bus, and that is how the child survived,” said Msibi.

The rescue operation continued until Thursday evening and continued the next morning.

Limpopo health officer Phophi Ramathuba told the South African reporter of eNCA that the organs of people affected by other accidents can be put in different bags, which is why so far only nine bodies have been identified.

Transport Minister Sinisiwe Chikunga, who went to the scene of the accident, offered his condolences to the families affected by the accident.

He said the South African government will help to return the bodies and to investigate everything that led to the accident.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with you at this difficult time,” he added. “We continue to encourage safe driving at all times and be extra vigilant as many people are on our roads over the Easter weekend.”

South Africa has a poor record for road safety.

Ms Chikunga told eNCA that the road where the bus crashed was “a curvy road, a winding road, a road that I do not advise anyone driving a heavy vehicle like a bus, like a truck, to use”.

President Cyril Ramaphosa expressed his condolences to Botswana and their loved ones affected by the tragedy, a statement from his office said on Thursday evening.

In an Easter message released before the crash, Ramaphosa urged citizens to “do everything we can to make this Easter”.

“It should not be a time when we sit back and wait to see the numbers of accidents or injuries on our roads”, he added.

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