At least 20 people found dead in South African nightclub


South African authorities have launched an investigation after at least 20 people were found dead inside a nightclub in the city of East London.

It is unclear what led to the deaths of the young people, who were reportedly attending a party in the coastal town of East London to celebrate the end of winter school exams.

Local newspaper Daily Dispatch reported that bodies were strewn across tables and chairs without any visible signs of injury.

Eastern Cape police spokesperson Brigadier Tembinkosi Kinana said police were alerted by members of the public to the incident at Scenery Park, about three kilometres from the city centre.

He told the Newzroom Africa rolling news channel in the country that young adults aged between 18 and 20 were among the dead.

He said they “were found dead inside a local cabin in Scenery Park, in the area of East London.

“We received this report in the early hours of Sunday. The circumstances surrounding the incident are under investigation as we speak.

“We do not want to make any speculations at this stage. Our investigation is continuing.”

Health department spokesman Siyanda Manana said: "At this point we cannot confirm the cause of death.

"We are going to conduct autopsies as soon as possible to establish the probable cause of death. The deceased have been taken to state mortuaries."

A provincial safety official told AFP news agency that a stampede had been ruled out as the cause of death as there were “no visible wounds”.

“Forensic [investigators] will take samples and test to see if there was any poisoning of any sort,” Unathi Binqose said.

The owner of the club, Siyakhangela Ndevu, told local broadcaster eNCA that he had been called to the scene early on Sunday.

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."