At least 22 young adults, many between the ages of 18 and 20 and one as young as 13, were found dead in a South African nightclub early Sunday in what authorities described as a possible “stampede.”
Police and medical services in East London, South Africa, were called around 4 a.m. Sunday to the Enyobeni Tavern nightclub after reports of dead patrons, police told local broadcaster SABC. Once they arrived, they found the bodies of both men and women laying throughout the club.
“Reports, for now, indicate there was an alleged stampede,” Eastern Cape Police Commissioner Nomthetheleli Mene told SABC.
A health department spokesperson said officials were working to determine the cause of death, according to the Associated Press, but the owner of the club admitted it was forced to shut its doors due to a rush of people.
“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,” Enyobeni Tavern owner Siyakhangela Ndevu told eNCA.
Video supplied. This is a video of the club/tavern where it’s understood at least 17 people were found dead. It's still unclear what happened, but police are investigating.#eNCA #EasternCape pic.twitter.com/5EC9dTRrab
— Heidi Giokos (@HeidiGiokos) June 26, 2022
Police did not release the conditions of the victims’ bodies, though they hoped to use surveillance footage from the scene to help piece together what happened, according to The New York Times. Samples from the bodies will be taken to toxicology labs in Cape Town to help determine the cause of death, according to CNN.
Dozens of nightclub attendees remain missing after the incident, according to South Africa's News24, prompting “hundreds” of family members and loved ones to gather outside the venue, awaiting answers. Some even tried to forcibly enter the venue, the outlet reported, but they were stopped by police.
“Our people will not be able to access the scene, police are busy here. We don't want to mess up this crime scene,” Eastern Cape Police spokesperson Brigadier Thembinkosi Kinana said of the chaos. “We want a tight case so that we get everyone accountable for this.”