I am deeply shocked and saddened by the tragic accident involving learners from Rheenendal Primary School this morning.
Thirteen learners are confirmed dead. Police divers are currently at the scene searching for further bodies. The driver of the bus is also confirmed dead.
On behalf of the WCED and the Provincial Government, I would like to extend my condolences to the families who have lost loved ones. They are in all of our thoughts and prayers.
I am currently en route to the scene to show my support and to assist where I can. I am going to be joined by colleague, Minister for Transport and Public Works Robin Carlisle.
According to initial reports the learners drowned after the bus in which they were travelling was swept into a river in the southern Cape this morning.
The bus was carrying learners to Rheenendal Primary School in Rheenendal near Knysna.
Officials of the Eden Karoo Education District of the Western Cape Education Department arrived at the scene immediately on hearing of the accident.
They included a team of school psychologists and social workers who are providing counseling for learners, parents and staff at the scene, as well as, the school and at the Knysna Provincial Hospital.
Ambulances took some of the survivors to the hospital for observation. Buses have been provided to transport parents to the hospital and the school.
The school and district staff are currently compiling a list of the survivors.
An investigation into the causes of the accident is currently underway.