At least 45 people have died after a bus plunged into a river in South Africa Transport News

An eight-year-old girl survived and was taken to hospital in critical condition.

A bus has plunged off a bridge into a river in South Africa, killing 45 of the 46 people on board, according to the Department of Transport.

The only survivor, an eight-year-old girl, was sent to hospital with serious injuries after the crash on Thursday.

Firefighters put out the fire that engulfed the bus after the accident [Limpopo Department of Transport and Community Safety via Reuters]

Authorities said the driver lost control of the vehicle and crashed into the side of a bridge in a mountainous area near Mamatlakala, 300 kilometers (190 miles) north of Johannesburg. The bus fell 50 meters (164 feet) into the river before catching fire.

The bus goes from neighboring Botswana to Moria, a town in northern Limpopo where Easter is celebrated. Easter Sunday falls on March 31 this year.

Transport Minister Sinisiwe Chikunga went to the scene of the accident and promised to investigate everything.

“We want to offer our heartfelt condolences to the families and to the government of Botswana and the people of Botswana, and like South Africa, we will do our best to help them return to their country and their families for a dignified burial,” he told SABC radio. .

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa sent a message of condolence to Botswana and pledged support, his office said.

An investigation was continuing at the scene, but many bodies had been burned beyond recognition and were still trapped inside the car.

Although South Africa has one of the most developed roads on the African continent, it also has one of the worst road safety records.

Hours before the accident, Ramaphosa asked South Africans to be careful when traveling during the Easter holidays.

“Let’s do everything we can to make this Easter safe. Easter should not be a time when we sit back and wait to see the numbers of accidents or injuries on our roads,” he said in a statement.

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