East London nightclub deaths: At least 22 people found dead in South African 'tavern'
Those who died are thought to be aged between 18 and 20, or possibly even younger
At least 22 people have been found dead inside a nightclub in South Africa, health officials have confirmed.
Emergency services were called to the Enyobeni Tavern in the early hours of Sunday morning, local newspaper Daily Dispatch reports. The club is located on the edge of East London - a city in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa.
Speaking on behalf of police, Brigadier Tembinkosi Kinana said officers were made aware of the incident by members of the public.
"The circumstances under which they died are under investigation," he told Reuters.
Indida kufa abangu22 eNyobeni Tavern, eScenery Park, Eastern Cape. Abazibonele ngawabo bathi izidumbu bezigcwele yonke indawo, kodwa zingekho izimpawu zokulimala.
Amaphoyisa nabazimo eziphuthumayo babizelwe kule ndawo. pic.twitter.com/p0gZUXGyai
— Isolezwe Newspaper (@IsolezweNews) June 26, 2022
Those who died were aged between 18 and 20-years-old, the Brigadier said, but other reports suggest they could've been even younger. Some of the people at the club were attending a party to celebrate end of winter school exams, Associate Press reports.
The bodies will be transported to state mortuaries where relatives are expected to help identify victims.
Siyanda Manana, a spokesperson for the Eastern Cape provincial health department, told Reuters: "We are going to immediately be embarking on autopsies so we can know the probable cause of death. We are talking 22 bodies right now."
The owner of the club, Siyakhangela Ndevu, told local broadcaster eNCA that he had been called to the scene early in the morning.
He said: "I am still uncertain about what really happened, but when I was called in the morning I was told the place was too full and that some people were trying to force their way into the tavern. However, we will hear what the police say about the cause of death."
But speaking from the scene, Eastern Cape provincial community and safety department official, Unathi Binqose, ruled out a stampede as a cause of the deaths.
Police are refusing parents access to the bodies of their children after they were killed in an as yet unknown tragedy that has left at least 22 people dead at an East London tavern. https://t.co/X15IbVAeuS
— Daily Dispatch (@Dispatch_DD) June 26, 2022
"It’s difficult to believe it’s a stampede as there are no visible open wounds to those dead," Binqose told The Guardian.
"Parents whose children did not sleep home are gathered here and they want to enter the tavern to look for their loved ones," he added.
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