In an occurrence that has left many questions than answers , at least 20 teenagers have reportedly died after patronizing a drinking tavern.
Police were on Monday combing the a township tavern after the mysterious death with survivors describing a melee that ensued in a bid to escape the jam-packed premises.
Most of the victims, some as young as 13 years, were found dead inside the popular bar. A total of 17 died inside the bar, while four died in hospital. Many of the victims are thought to have been students celebrating the end of their high-school exams, officials said.
Thirty-one others have hospitalized with symptoms including backache, tight chests, vomiting and headache, official said. speculation among local officials and politicians is that this was a case of under-age drinking that went tragically wrong.
However, new details point to a strong and suffocating smell in the jam-packed double-storey building.
Sinovuyo Monyane, 19, a survivor narrated her horrifying ordeal.
“We tried moving through the crowd, shouting ‘please let us through,’ and others were shouting ‘we are dying, guys,’ and ‘we are suffocating’ and ‘there are people who can’t breathe’,” she told AFP.
“I passed out at that moment. I was running out of breath and there was a strong smell of some type of spray on in the air. We thought it was pepper spray,” she said.
She later regained her consciousness after someone sprayed water on her.
The incident took place in South Africa and according to AFP detectives will be resuming their work at the crime scene.
President Cyril Ramaphosa is among those who have addressed the tragedy said the teenagers reportedly “gathered at a venue which, on the face of it, should be off-limits to persons under the age of 18,” he said.
A resident DJ, who was also celebrating his birthday on the night, spoke of a rush of revellers who forced their way into an already packed venue.
“We tried to close the door but people kept pushing. The bouncers could not handle the crowd that was pushing from outside the entrance door. There were so many people,” the DJ said.
He turned off the music to try discourage revelers, but to no avail.
The crowd was just “unruly and could not be managed,” he said, adding he was “traumatized.”
In a tweet, African Union Commission chief Moussa Faki Mahamat expressed his thoughts and prayers “during this time of unspeakable grief and sorrow.”