S.African police search bar for clues after 21 teens die


South African police were on Monday combing a township tavern where 21 teenagers mysteriously died as survivors described a battle to escape the jam-packed premises and one reported a suffocating smell. Most of the victims, some as young as 13 years, were found dead inside a popular bar in the southern city of East London.

Seventeen were died inside the bar, while four died in hospital. Thirty-one others were hospitalised with symptoms including backache, tight chests, vomiting and headache, official said.

Most were discharged on Sunday, leaving two in hospital, they said. But new details emerged Monday as survivors spoke of a strong and suffocating smell in the jam-packed double-storey building.

Sinovuyo Monyane, 19, who was hired by the bar to promote an alcohol brand, said she was still “confused” but felt lucky to be alive. She said she struggled to escape through a door gridlocked with people.

“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 consciousnesses after someone sprayed water on her. “I got up and realised that there were bodies lying around. I saw people being poured water, but those people did not even move,” she said in a phone interview. “I could have died.” Special investigators from Pretoria have been rushed to the scene. “The detectives will be resuming their work at the crime scene today,” regional police spokesman Thembinkosi Kinana told.—AFP


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