Residents watch from a bridge as authorities investigate a deadly minibus crash near Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.
KZN Department of Transport
Residents watch from a bridge as authorities investigate a deadly minibus crash near Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.

Story highlights

Crash happened outside city of Pietermaritzburg

Officials said minibus was overloaded and its brakes may have been faulty

CNN —  

At least 19 people were killed in eastern South Africa on Sunday when an overloaded minibus lost control and rolled down a steep embankment, according to local government officials.

The crash happened near a bridge on the main road outside of Pietermaritzburg, in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province, according to authorities.

KZN Department of Transport

Eighteen people died on the scene, according to a post on the official Facebook page of the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport. A later post said 19 died in the crash but did not elaborate on the circumstances of the additional death. Seven who were on board remained in the hospital as of Sunday night.

The Department of Transport said the minibus was overloaded – carrying 10 more people than its license allowed. Twenty-six people were on board, including the driver. A spokesman for the transport department said the passengers were on their way to church.

Local officials address community members after deadly minibus crash near Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.
KZN Department of Transport
Local officials address community members after deadly minibus crash near Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.

Paramedics found bodies lying around the overturned minibus when they arrived, according to a news release from ER24, a private emergency services company.

ER24 reported that local residents had taken as many as 12 injured victims from the minibus to a nearby clinic. The injured were later transferred to hospitals.

Local authorities have ordered a thorough investigation into the crash. A preliminary report indicated the minibus’ brakes were faulty, the transport department said.

CNN’s Sarah Faidell, Lyric Lewin and Katherine Gerberich contributed to this report.