At least twelve children died in a bus fire in Bulgaria – VG

ACCIDENT SITE: Emergency services are standing next to the burnt-out bus on a motorway in western Bulgaria.

At least 45 people, twelve of them children, lost their lives after a bus caught fire on a motorway in Bulgaria. The cause of the accident is currently unknown.

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Less than 2 hours ago

The bus caught fire on a highway in western Bulgaria on Tuesday night. The bus was from northern Macedonia, and it is believed that all the dead were northern Macedonians. They were on their way from a holiday trip in Istanbul, Turkey to Skopje in northern Macedonia.

Interior Minister Bojko Rashkov in Bulgaria calls the scene “a terrible sight.”

– I have never seen anything like this before, he told journalists on the spot.

It is still being investigated whether there was a technical fault in the vehicle or whether it was a human fault that caused the accident.

Twelve children

North Macedonian authorities state that twelve of those who died in the accident were children.

The incident took place around 2 o’clock, according to Nikolai Nikolov, who is responsible for the fire in the ministry. The news agency DPA quotes the state-run Bulgarian news agency BTA as saying that the accident happened about 40 km south of the capital Sofia.

– 45 or 46 people died. Seven passengers were rescued, says Nikolov to the broadcaster BNT.

The seven have been transported to a hospital in Sofia with burns, BTV was informed earlier.

ACCIDENT SITE: Emergency services are standing next to the burnt-out bus on a motorway in western Bulgaria.

– Great tragedy

Bulgaria’s acting Prime Minister Stefan Janev calls the accident a great tragedy.

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“Let us hope that we learn something from this tragic accident, so that we can prevent such incidents in the future,” says Janev.

Northern Macedonia’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev believes most of the dead come from the country.

“We do not know if all the victims are from northern Macedonia, but we assume that they are because the bus is registered in the country,” he said in an interview with Nova TV.

Albanian authorities say almost all of the dead are ethnic Albanians. Zaev is on his way to the site, as is Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama.

Four-year-old twins must be among the dead, according to several media outlets. Otherwise, many of the dead are between 20 and 30 years old, according to officials.

Among the survivors, five are from northern Macedonia, one is from Serbia and one is from Belgium, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of northern Macedonia.

Was awakened by explosion

One of the survivors tells the Bulgarian TV channel bTV that he slept on the bus before he was awakened by an explosion. Some had their windows smashed and jumped out of the bus, while others were stuck.

According to police chief Stanimir Stanev, the driver of the bus died immediately, which meant that no one could open the doors to the bus.

The tourist company the bus is registered on has not yet responded to inquiries to the news agencies.

BLOCKED OUT: Police block a motorway at the scene of the bus fire.

Landesorg

The government of northern Macedonia has declared a three-day national mourning. The flags will be at half mast and public events will be canceled.

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EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen offers condolences to the family and friends of the dead.

– In these terrible times, Europe is in solidarity with you, von der Leyen says.

Bulgaria is one of the countries in Europe with the most traffic fatalities in relation to the population. Figures from the EU Commission show that 89 people per 100,000 inhabitants die in traffic every year, writes the news agency AP.

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