JOHANNESBURG: At least 17 people have been found dead at a nightclub in a township in South Africa’s southern city of East London on Sunday, police said.
Brigadier Tembinkosi Kinana said police were alerted by members of the public to the incident at Scenery Park, about 3km (1.9 miles) from the city centre.
“The circumstances under which they died are under investigation,” Kinana told Reuters news agency, adding it was too early to determine the cause of death of the young adults aged between 18 and 20 years.
Local television showed police officers trying to calm down a crowd of people gathered outside the club in the city, which lies on the Indian Ocean coast, nearly 1,000km (620 miles) south of the commercial capital, Johannesburg.
The Eastern Cape provincial community and safety department official Unathi Binqose, speaking from the scene, ruled out a stampede as cause of death.
“It’s difficult to believe it’s a stampede as there are no visible open wounds to those dead,” Binqose told AFP news agency by telephone.
“Parents whose children did not sleep home are gathered here and they want to enter the tavern to look for their loved ones,” Binqose added.
He said he understood the patrons were students “celebrating pens down, a party held after writing (high school) exams”.
A regional local newspaper, DispatchLive, reported “bodies are lying strewn across tables, chairs and on the floor; with no obvious signs of injury”. (AFP)