Officials say 22 teenagers died at a tavern in South Africa over the weekend — but the cause of their death remains a mystery.
The teens’ bodies were found “senza vita” on Sunday around 4 sono. local time at a local tavern in Scenery Park, East London, secondo a comunicato stampa from the South African Police Service (SAPS).
At least nine women and 12 men were found dead when emergency responders arrived at the venue, SAPS reported.
East London police did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
“This tragedy is made even more grave by its occurrence during Youth Month – a time during which we celebrate young people, advocate and advance opportunities for improved socio-economic conditions for the youth of our nation,” said Ramaphosa, 69, su Twitter.
Sunday’s incident occurred at Enyobeni Tavern, il Maverick segnalato. The venue promoted a Saturday night of “Hooka[h] food and alcohol” on its Facebook page prior to the event. The social media post promised live performances, surprise guests and “various” DJs.
The business did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Officials located 17 bodies inside the tavern upon arrival, SAPS said in Sunday’s release. Two victims “died at a local clinic,” one died at a hospital, and another died while being transported.
Inoltre, four people were listed in critical condition at the hospital, per il Maverick. At least three victims reportedly went to the hospital after going home from the tavern after feeling ill.
Le vittime’ bodies did not appear to have any visible wounds or signs of injury, secondo USA Today.
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Though the teens’ official cause of death has not been revealed, Unathi Binqose, a spokesperson for the Eastern Cape Department of Community Safety, detto il Maverick that forensic pathologists believe the teens consumed something that led to their deaths based on initial autopsy results.
“[Essi] said it was something they ingested, possibly from the beers they were consuming, or something they inhaled from those hubbly-bubblies [water pipes or hookahs] that they were smoking,” Binqose told the outlet.
Some witnesses claimed the victims were killed during a stampede, which has since been ruled out, per il Maverick.
Sull'accaduto sono in corso le indagini. SAPS said management “has ordered the deployment of maximum resources” as officials look into Sunday’s incident, according to Sunday’s news release.
Speaking with reporters at the Enyobeni Tavern, where the deaths occurred, national Police Minister Bheki Cele said toxicology labs in Cape Town will analyze samples from the bodies of the victims, according to CNN and USA Today.
In SAPS’ comunicato stampa, Cele said officials are “engaging other stakeholders to investigate issues of compliance to liquor legislation.”
“We have an experienced team that is complementing the provincial team to ensure that we get to the bottom of what has led to the death of these young people,” Lui ha spiegato.
Anyone who may have information about Sunday’s incident is asked to share information via the #CrimeStop number at 08600 10111.