At least 45 dead, including 12 children, after bus crash in Bulgaria

At least 45 dead, including 12 children, after bus crash in Bulgaria

At least 45 people, including 12 children, died as a bus carrying mostly North Macedonian tourists crashed in flames on a highway in western Bulgaria hours before daybreak on Tuesday, officials said.

Seven people who leapt from the burning bus were rushed to hospital in Sofia and were in stable conditions, hospital staff said. Bulgaria’s interior ministry said 45 people died, making it the most deadly bus accident in the Balkan country’s history.

Interior Minister Boyko Rashkov said bodies were “clustered inside and are burnt to ash.”

“The picture is terrifying, terrifying. I have never seen anything like that before,” he told reporters at the site.

In this image made from video provided by Nova TV, a burnt out bus is seen after a crash in Bosnek, Bulgaria, Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021. A bus crash in western Bulgaria early Tuesday has killed dozens of people, authorities said. Picture: Nova TV via AP

The cause of the accident was unclear but the bus appeared to have hit a highway barrier either before or after it caught fire, Bulgarian officials said.

The accident happened on Struma highway about 45 km (28 miles) west of Sofia around 2:00 a.m. (0000 GMT), Bulgarian officials said. The coach party was returning to Skopje from a weekend holiday trip to Istanbul, a trip of about 800 km (500 miles).

Television footage showed the bus charred and gutted by fire in the middle of the highway, which was wet from rain.

“We have an enormous tragedy here,” Bulgarian interim Prime Minister Stefan Yanev told reporters.

North Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said he had spoken to one of the survivors who told him the passengers were sleeping when they were woken by the sound of an explosion.

“I am terrified. This is such a huge tragedy,” he told private television channel BTV.

This image made from video provided by Nova TV shows road signs and police roadblock near scene of bus crash in Bosnek, Bulgaria, Tuesday, November 23, 2021. A bus crash in western Bulgaria early Tuesday has killed dozens of people, authorities said. Picture: Nova TV via AP

Bulgarian investigative service chief Borislav Sarafov said four buses from a North Macedonian travel agency had entered Bulgaria late on Monday from Turkey.

“Human mistake by the driver or a technical malfunction are the two initial versions for the accident,” he said.

My deepest condolences to the families and friends of those who perished in the tragic bus accident last night in Bulgaria.

I also wish a fast recovery to those injured.

In these terrible times, Europe stands in solidarity with you.

— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) November 23, 2021

EU Commission president, Ursula Von der Leyen, expressed her sympathies with the families of the victims.

“My deepest condolences to the families and friends of those who perished in the tragic bus accident last night in Bulgaria,” she wrote.

“I also wish a fast recovery to those injured.

“In these terrible times, Europe stands in solidarity with you.”

 

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