JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – At least three children have died and 15 others were injured on Friday after a walkway linking two buildings at a school near the South African city of Johannesburg collapsed, emergency services said.
The fatal incident happened at the Hoërskool Driehoek school in Vanderbijlpark, an industrial city in the Guateng province some 68 kilometers (42 miles) south of Johannesburg, when a bridge connecting two of the institution’s buildings gave way.
“Three children have been killed and approximately 15 others injured in the structural collapse at the school in Vanderbijlpark,” South African emergency medical service ER24 said on social media.
“Two children have been airlifted to hospital,” the same source added.
The three pupils who lost their lives when a slab of concrete holding up a walkway gave way were aged between 14-17.
The head of education for Gauteng province, Panyaza Lesufi, visited the school and confirmed on Twitter that three pupils had died.
He expressed “sincere condolences” to the victims’ families on behalf of the South African government over the incident, and said he would be visiting the young victims in hospitals, according to a post on the provincial Department of Education’s Twitter account.
He said some of the pupils did not have access to medical or financial assistance in order to receive care, but his department had issued instructions so that all the children affected had access to assistance, “whether they can afford or can’t afford,” as cited by state-run news service, SA News.
South African emergency services were working at the scene.
“A10 and A13 Standing off with multiple other services at the school in Vanderbijlpark. Condolences to the families and friends speedy recovery to the Injured. Netcare 1 has done back to back evacuation from the school,” EMER-G-MED, an advanced life support private ambulance, tweeted.
Images released via epa showed officials inspecting the collapsed walkway, an area has been cordoned off.
So far, there has been no explanation as to what may have caused the structural collapse.
The school was closed with immediate effect.