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At least 20 die in South African club; cause still unknown

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At least 20 people that could be aged between 15 and 20 have died at a township pub in South Africa’s southern city of East London.

On Sunday, mortuary vehicles were lined up in the residential area of Scenery Park.

A crowd of parents and onlookers had gathered outside the club looking for their loved ones.

The victims that were found showed no visible open wounds, prompting the provincial community and safety department official  to rule out a stampede as the cause of death. Empty bottles of alcohol, wigs and even a pastel purple “Happy Birthday” sash lay strewn on the dusty street outside the double-storey Enyobeni Tavern, according to Unathi Binqose, a safety government official who arrived at the scene at dawn.

“Forensic (investigators) will take samples and test to see if there was any poisoning of any sort,” he said.

Drinking is permitted in South African township pubs, commonly known as taverns.

Binqose said he understood many of the patrons were students “celebrating pens down, a party held after writing (high school) exams”.

An investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident is underway.