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12 schoolchildren and their driver are killed when their minibus crashes in South Africa

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JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Twelve schoolchildren and their driver were killed in South Africa on Wednesday when their minibus overturned and caught fire on a road in Gauteng province, officials said. The accident took place a day after schools reopened after the winter holidays.

Seven other children were injured in accident, which took place in the town of Merafong, west of the country’s economic hub Johannesburg.

Reports said a that a small truck, known as a bakkie, had slammed into the back of the minibus transporting the children, causing it to overturn and erupt into flames.

Education and transport officials visited the scene of the crash and the injured children at a hospital in the nearby area of Carletonville. Head of the Gauteng provincial government, Panyaza Lesufi, also visited the injured children.

Gauteng education department spokesman Steve Mabona said 11 of the children who died attended attended Rocklands Primary School while the twelfth child went to Laerskool Blyvooruitsig in Carletonville.

“The pupils’ transport was hit from behind by a bakkie, causing it to overturn and subsequently catch fire,” Mabona said, describing the crash as a “horrific accident.”

Thousands of schoolchildren in Gauteng rely on private minibuses for transport to and from their schools across South Africa’s most populous province. Many others rely on public transport, including municipal buses and taxis.

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