April 21 (UPI) -- South African officials said 20 people, mostly children, died after the bus they were in collided with a truck on Friday.
The collision occurred near the town of Wolvenkop on the R25 road connecting Johannesburg with Groblersdal, News24 reported. The bus carrying the students burst into flames after the collision.
"Some of the pupils burnt beyond recognition, as they were trapped inside," emergency services spokesperson Johan Pieterse told News24.
South Africa's ER24 Emergency Medical Care agency confirmed the death toll stood at 20 children. It is not yet clear if adults were among those killed; some reports indicate 18 children and two adults died.
"I am saddened," Panyaza Lesufi, a South African education minister, said in a statement. "It's a dark day for education."
Officials launched an investigation into the collision. Pieterse said paramedics on the scene transported seven students to the nearest hospital.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of all these young learners!" the Arrive Alive road safety group said in a statement.