AT least 22 young people have been killed in a suspected mass poisoning at a nightclub after bodies were found “strewn across tables and chairs”.
Cops have launched an investigation into the mysterious deaths after an end-of-exams party ended in tragedy at a popular venue in South Africa.
Emergency services were scrambled to the scene at the Enyobeni Tavern in the coastal city of East London in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Lifeless bodies were found on tables and chairs, with at least 22 reported dead with “no visible injuries”.
Heartbreaking footage from Scenery Park showed police officers trying to calm down a crowd of people gathered outside the club.
Earlier reports suggested the deaths may have been the result of a horror stampede, but this has since been ruled out by Unathi Binqose, an Eastern Cape community and safety department official.
He said: “It’s difficult to believe it’s a stampede as there are no visible open wounds to those dead.
“Parents whose children did not sleep home are gathered here and they want to enter the tavern to look for their loved ones.”
Police said the cause of death remains unknown, however there has been speculation they were exposed to some kind of poison.
The bodies have been to sent to state mortuaries, where relatives are expected to help identify both male and female victims, Siyanda Manana, a spokesman for the Eastern Cape provincial health department, said.
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He said: “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.”
Expressing his condolences, President Cyril Ramaphosa said he was worried about the circumstances under which young people, potentially under the age of 18 years, were allowed to gather at the tavern.
Bheki Cele, the national police minister, said: “The call is on the parents to see that their kids are kept well, the call is on the community to say we can’t allow our kids to die.”
Devastated locals are now calling for the tavern – a popular hangout spot for teens – to be closed down.
A 17-year-old girl living nearby, who only gave her name as “Lolly”, told Reuters: “Everyone wants it closed down because they sell alcohol to under-age children.
“Everyone is angry, everyone is sad because of what happened.”
The incident shares eerie similarities with the Throb nightclub disaster that happened in March 2000.
A detonation of a teargas canister at the Throb nightclub in Chatsworth, South Africa, resulted in a stampede which subsequently led to the death of 13 children.
Another 100 were injured while the youngest victim was 11 years old.
The club was filled with 600 children aged 11-14 celebrating the end of term.
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AT least 22 young people have been killed in a suspected mass poisoning at a nightclub after bodies were found “strewn across tables and chairs”. Cops have launched an investigation into the mysterious deaths after an end-of-exams party ended in tragedy at a popular venue in South Africa. Emergency services were scrambled to the scene […]