Caption: A fully loaded Putco bus came came off the R59 just before 8am this morning and crashed into a dry stream. At mid morning about 20 passengers were still trapped within as emergency workers slowly cut open the bus. Picture.

At least 18 people died when their bus plummeted off a bridge in Meyerton in the Vaal Triangle, on Monday morning, paramedics said.

Paramedics from ER24 and Netcare 911 gave different figures on the death toll by noon.

ER24 spokeswoman Vanessa Jackson said 18 people were dead, while Netcare 911 Jeff Wicks put the figure at 19.

Jackson said: “Our figure is a preliminary one at this stage as emergency personnel are still working on the scene.

“We have so far rushed more than 52 injured commuters to the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital. We have also airlifted two in a critical condition.”

The driver apparently lost control of the vehicle, which hit the rails of the bridge then plummeted 10 metres to the ground, landing on its side.

The bus was still there by noon, Jackson said. - Sapa