Update: South African nightclub death toll rises to 20, two still critical

JOHANNESBURG— The number of young people who have died at a makeshift nightclub in a township in South Africa’s southern city of East London has risen to 20, a senior safety official said on Sunday.

“The number has increased to 20, three have died in hospital. But there are still two who are very critical,” head of the provincial government safety department Weziwe Tikana-Gxothiwe said on local TV.

Earlier on Sunday, 17 people were found dead at the nightclub, police had said.

“We got a report about 17 (people) died in a local tavern in Scenery Park which is based in East London. We are still investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident,” a provincial police chief brigadier Thembinkosi Kinana said.

The location, Scenery Park, is about three kms from the city center.

Unverified pictures shared on social media showed bodies with no visible signs of injuries, strewn on the floor of the club.

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 1,000 kilometres south of Johannesburg.

Kinana said it was too early to determine the cause of death of the young adults aged between 18-20 years.