Bulgaria bus fire: At least 45 dead including 12 children after crash
An “explosion” on a bus in Bulgaria has killed at least 45 people with 12 children among the dead, making it the most deadly accident of its kind on record in the Balkan country. The bus crashed and caught fire on a highway near the village of Bosnek, south of Sofia in Bulgaria at about 02h00am on Tuesday, 23 November 2021. Sleeping passengers were rocked awake by the sound of an explosion, survivors said. Seven people managed to break a window on the bus and escape the blaze with their lives, Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev told bTV. “One of the passengers I spoke to on the phone told me there was an explosion. Seven people managed to break a window and escaped,” Prime Minister Zaev said.
The bus, which was heading from Turkey to North Macedonia, appeared to have hit a highway barrier either before or after it caught fire, according to officials.
Seven people who leaped from the burning vehicle were rushed to hospital in Sofia and were in a stable condition, hospital staff said.
Interior Minister Boyko Rashkov, who visited the crash site, said the bodies of those who died in the incident were “clustered inside [the bus] and are burned to ash”. “The picture is terrifying, terrifying. I have never seen anything like that before,” he told reporters.
‘An enormous tragedy’
Bulgarian investigative service chief Borislav Sarafov said four busses from a North Macedonian travel agency had entered Bulgaria late on Monday from Turkey. The vehicles were travelling together. “Human mistake by the driver or a technical malfunction are the two initial versions for the accident,” he said.
Television footage showed the bus, charred and gutted by fire, in the middle of the highway, which was wet from the rain. “We have an enormous tragedy here,” Bulgarian interim Prime Minister Stefan Yanev told reporters.
North Macedonia’s chief prosecutor, Lubomir Jovevski, who visited the site of the accident near the village of Bosnek, said that 12 children were among the dead.
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.
Zaev said he feared all the victims may be from North Macedonia, given the bus was registered in the country. The coach party was returning to Skopje from a weekend holiday trip to Istanbul, a trip of about 800km.
The cause of Tuesday’s accident was yet to be determined.
Sources: Standard, Aljazeera, Reuters, Sky News, BBC News, New York Times