24 die in South Africa when bus plunges off cliff

Image: Wreckage of a bus near Cedarville in South Africa
Rescuers remove bodies from the wreckage of a bus crash near Cedarville, South Africa, on Tuesday.EPA
/ Source: The Associated Press

A bus plummeted nearly 1,000 feet off a cliff and crashed into a river in a mountainous region of South Africa on Tuesday, killing 24 people, police said.

The dead included three children, ages 1, 3 and 7, police spokeswoman Zandra Wiid said. Ambulances transported 25 injured people to a hospital.

More bodies may be trapped underneath the bus, which is lying on its roof in shallow water, Wiid said. The police are waiting to remove the damaged bus until after it has been examined by a mechanical expert.

The bus, belonging to a private company, is believed to have carried 80 passengers, Wiid said. The accident happened around 10 a.m., near Matatiele in a mountainous part of the Eastern Cape.

Police and Defense Force helicopters were taking the dead and injured up to higher ground, Wiid said, though windy conditions initially delayed the rescue effort. The cause of the accident is not yet known.