12 children are among 45 people killed in bus crash horror: Vehicle smashes into guardrail in Bulgaria after bursting into flames – with all seven survivors seriously burned
- Seven survivors needed treatment for burns and were rushed to hospital
- Bus either crashed and burst into flames or caught fire and crashed
- Vehicle was carrying mostly tourists from Macedonia on a weekend trip
- Crash happened on the Struma highway around 45km west of Sofia at 2am
Dozens of people – including 12 children – have burned to death after a bus caught fire on a motorway in Bulgaria.
At least 45 people were killed when the coach, thought to be full of North Macedonian tourists returning from a trip to Turkey, hit crash barriers and burst into flames around 2am on Tuesday.
Seven people were pulled alive from the wreck and have been taken to hospital in the capital of Sofia with non-life-threatening injuries.
Interior Minister Boyko Rashkov, who visited the scene in the early hours, said the bodies of the dead were ‘completely burned out’ by the intensity of the fire.
Seven survivors needed treatment for burns and were rushed to hospital in the capital Sofia, Bulgarian interior ministry senior official Nikolai Nikolov told private BTV television
The bus, which was carrying mostly tourists from North Macedonia, either crashed and caught fire, or caught fire and then crashed on Struma highway around 45km west of Sofia at 2am, according to Mr Nikolov
‘Of the victims … 12 in total were under the age of 18,’ national police chief Stanimir Stanev said.
He told bTV television that 45 of the 52 people on the bus were killed.
Nikolay Nikolov, head of the Fire Safety and Civil Protection department at the interior ministry, told public broadcaster BNT that ‘seven passengers survived’.
They were taken to a hospital in the capital with serious burns, he added.
According to bTV, the bus was travelling from Turkey’s main city of Istanbul to Skopje in North Macedonia.
North Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said the victims were probably fellow Macedonians.
‘We don’t know if all the victims are from North Macedonia, but we assume so because the bus is registered in the country,’ he said in an interview with Nova TV.
The site has been sealed off and Bulgarian interim Prime Minister Stefan Yanev rushed to the scene of the tragedy. Pictured, investigations into the crash have begun
But police chief Stanev said while the two drivers of the bus were Macedonian, the passengers were Albanian.
‘Initial information shows that 52 people were travelling in the bus, including two drivers with Macedonian nationality and 50 passengers with Albanian nationality,’ he said.
Bulgaria’s interim Prime Minister Stefan Yanev and Interior Minister Boyko Rashkov rushed to the site of the crash Tuesday morning, while local media said that the North Macedonian and Albanian premiers were also on their way.
‘It’s a terrifying picture in there. I haven’t seen anything like that before,’ Rashkov told journalists at the site.
‘Nobody can say for certain how many are there and who they were. The bodies are badly burned and have to be identified one by one,’ he added.
Bulgaria has a history of deadly bus accidents. Seventeen Bulgarian tourists died in 2018 when their bus skidded on a wet road and overturned.
A total of 628 people died in road accidents in 2019 and 463 in 2020 in the country of 6.9 million people, according to official data. The accidents were often attributed to poor road conditions, outdated cars and speeding.
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