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Bus in South Africa plunges off bridge and catches fire, killing 45 people

A bus in South Africa plunged off a bridge and fell more than 150 feet Thursday, killing 45 people, officials said. Only one passenger, an 8-year-old girl, survived the crash. 

The bus was traveling from Botswana to an annual Easter festival at a church in Moria, in South Africa's northern province of Limpopo.

The driver of the bus reportedly lost control while driving over the bridge, colliding with barriers before falling about 50 meters onto a rocky surface, Limpopo's Department of Transport and Community Safety said.

Rescue workers at the scene of the bus crash Mamatlakala, South Africa, on March 28, 2024. Limpopo Department of Transport and Community Safety

Rescue operations continued late Thursday. Some bodies were burned beyond recognition, while others were trapped inside the vehicle's debris, the department said. 

A department spokesperson told CBS News that the 8-year-old survivor is a girl. She was being treated at a nearby hospital, though the department did not provide further details about her condition.

Rescue workers told local media that the bus was pulling a trailer, adding additional weight to the vehicle as it crossed the bridge.

"I am sending my heartfelt condolences to the families affected by the tragic bus crash near Mamatlakala," Sindisiwe Chikunga, South Africa's Minister of Transport, said at the crash scene. "We continue to urge responsible driving at all times with heightened alertness as more people are on our roads this Easter weekend." 

—Sarah Carter contributed reporting.

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