News ID: 318174
Published: 0317 GMT November 23, 2021

At least 45 killed in Bulgaria bus blaze

At least 45 killed in Bulgaria bus blaze
AP

A bus carrying North Macedonian tourists crashed in flames on a highway in western Bulgaria before daybreak on Tuesday, killing at least 45 people, including 12 children, officials said.

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

Seven people who leapt from the burning bus were rushed to the Pirogov emergency hospital in the Bulgarian capital Sofia and were in a stable condition, hospital staff said. They had suffered burns and one had a broken leg.

Bulgaria's interior ministry said 45 people had died, making it the deadliest bus accident in the Balkan country's history.

Interim 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.

The accident happened on the Struma highway about 30km (19 miles) west of Sofia around 2 a.m. (0000 GMT).

The coach party had been returning to Skopje, capital of North Macedonia, after a weekend holiday trip to Istanbul, a trip of about 800km (500 miles).

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

"Human error by the driver or a technical malfunction are the two initial versions for the accident," Sarafov said.

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

"This is a huge tragedy," North Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev told reporters in Sofia and expressed his condolences to relatives of the victims.

Zaev said the passengers were all from North Macedonia but appeared to include a Serbian citizen and a Belgian citizen. It was unclear whether the two were among the victims or injured.

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

He said people sitting at the back of the bus were able to break a window and jump out.

 

 

   
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