Cape Town – Chemical poisoning is suspected to be the cause of the death of 21 teenagers who died at Enyobeni Tavern in Scenery Park in East London, reports said on Wednesday.
The Mail & Guardian said that a gaseous explosion that resulted in chemical asphyxiation was suspected to have caused the death of the teenagers.
According to a government pathology expert, Dr Solomon Zondi the gaseous substance was released in the downstairs area of the tavern where the mayhem started, the report said.
He said that people who were in the enclosed downstairs area of the tavern were the most affected.
“The children died of poisoning – the question now is whether it was inhaled or ingested,” the report quoted Dr Zondi as saying.
He said that toxicology testing which will determine what substance was implicated was being done at a government laboratory in Cape Town.
However, according to News24, ongoing post-mortem examinations done on the victims found traces of carbon monoxide.
The report said sources close to the investigation suspected that the victims were killed by carbon monoxide poisoning caused by toxic fumes from a petrol generator believed to have been on the ground floor of the tavern.
Police crime scene experts reportedly found a petrol generator with an empty tank inside the tavern.
The report said that the University of Cape Town’s forensic pathology laboratory will finalise their finding after going through the victims’ stomach contents.
Final autopsy results were expected to be announced on Wednesday or Thursday.
The victims aged 13 to 17 died in the early hours of Sunday morning while partying at a local tavern.
Seventeen of them were found dead at the scene, while the rest died in hospital.
Speculations around accidental poisoning were rife, as survivors described a strong smell from the venue and how people struggled to breathe.
Compiled by Olwethu Mpeshe