South African authorities are investigating after 22 teenagers celebrating end-of-school exams died in a mysterious incident at a nightclub.
The teens’ bodies were found with no visible wounds or signs of injury at the Enyobeni Tavern in East London, a city in the country’s Eastern Cape.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa posted on Twitter that the teen’s bodies were discovered at the bar in the Scenery Park area early Sunday.
“My deepest condolences go to the families of the 22 teenagers who lost their lives,” Ramaphosa wrote. “This tragedy is made even more grave by its occurrence during Youth Month – a time during which we celebrate young people.”
Police discovered most of the victims, ages 13-17, lying on tables, slumped over chairs and sprawled on the floor of the club. The cause of their deaths remained under investigation Monday, police spokesperson Col. Athlenda Mathe said.
Police Minister Bheki Cele said forensic samples taken from the victims were sent to a toxicology laboratory in Cape Town, indicating that police were investigating whether the victims ingested a poison or toxin.
Toxicology test results are pending, Cele said.
Provincial safety official Unathi Binqose told the Daily Maverick newspaper that the victims may have ingested a toxic substance through alcohol they were drinking or through hookah pipes smoked at the party.
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Police said they went to the nightclub around 4 a.m. after receiving a report that there were “lifeless bodies” there.
Officers found most of the teenagers dead. Two others died at a clinic, one died on the way to a hospital and one at the hospital.
Contributing: The Associated Press
Natalie Neysa Alund covers trending news for USA TODAY. Reach her at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter @nataliealund.
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