Police are investigating after at least 20 young people were found dead inside a nightclub in South Africa with ‘no signs of visible injury.
The bodies were found ‘strewn across chairs’ in Enyobeni Tavern, a popular venue in the suburb of Scenery Park in the southern city of East London.
The victims are all believed to be between 18 and 20, police said.
Local media said the death toll could be as high as 22, and there is speculation those who died were exposed to some poison or killed during a stampede.
But South African Police Service SAPS claimed they did not wish to speculate until their investigation was complete.
Health department spokesman Siyanda Manana said: ‘At this point, we cannot confirm the cause of death.
‘We will conduct autopsies as soon as possible to establish the probable cause of death. The deceased have been taken to state mortuaries.’
He said: ‘I am still uncertain about what 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.’
News service Dispatch Live claimed a reporter was at the ‘horrific’ scene but said images were not suitable for publication. The bodies are described as laying on chairs with ‘no obvious sign of injury.
Brigadier Tembinkosi Kinana said ‘The SAPS confirms an incident where people were found dead in a tavern 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 speculate at this stage, and our investigation is continuing.’