Jun 26, 2022 - World

At least 22 dead in South African nightclub, cause unknown

SA police tape

Photo: Darren Stewart/Gallo Images via Getty Images

At least 22 people were found dead at a nightclub in East London, South Africa, early Sunday morning, though their cause of death remains unknown, AP reports.

Driving the news: The bodies of the deceased, found draped across tables and chairs at the club, did not bear marks of any visible injuries, local media reported, per AP.

  • “We are going to conduct autopsies as soon as possible to establish the probable cause of death," Siyanda Manana, a health department spokesperson, told AP.

The big picture: Siyakhangela Ndevu, the nightclub's owner, told a local broadcaster that he had been called to the venue in the early morning but that he was "still uncertain about what really happened."

  • The deceased were reportedly young people who were at the club celebrating the end of school exams, per AP.
  • “We are still investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident," Thembinkosi Kinana, a police spokesperson, said, per the Guardian.
  • U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed his condolences via Twitter on Sunday, writing that he was "deeply saddened" to hear of the deaths in South Africa and Oslo, Norway.
  • National police minister Bheki Cele told reporters that some of the victims were as young as 13 years old, CNN reported.
  • Samples from the bodies will collected and taken to toxicology labs in Cape Town for advanced analysis as part of the investigation, Cele added.

What they're saying: "My deepest condolences go to the families of the 22 teenagers who lost their lives at a tavern in Scenery Park, East London, in the early hours of this morning," South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa tweeted.

  • "This tragedy is made even more grave by its occurrence during Youth Month — a time during which we celebrate young people, advocate and advance opportunities for improved socio-economic conditions for the youth of our nation," he added.

Editor's note: This is a developing story; please check back for updates.

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