Forty-six people, including twelve minors, were burnt to death in a bus fire on a highway in Bulgaria from Monday to Tuesday, the worst in Europe in ten years.
Most of the victims were from northern Macedonia where the bus was registered. Only seven passengers were able to rescue themselves from the fire.
The Prime Minister of neighboring Bulgaria Joran Jav immediately went to their bedside in a hospital in Sofia, and the country ordered three days of mourning and the hoisting of the national flag.
According to the first elements of the investigation, the vehicle collided with the accident barrier wall and caught fire. Those who were there were caught in the fire.
The Bulgarian interior minister, who arrived shortly before the scene, located 40 km south of the capital, spoke of “a horrific scene.” “I have never seen anything like this,” Boyko Rashkov told reporters, adding that the bodies were difficult to identify.
A search of the vehicle’s black body on Tuesday revealed that “they may have been alive at the time of the shock and tried to get off the bus” but the doors were closed. AFP deputy lawyer Borislav Sarafov said.
“This is a great tragedy,” Zoran Zaev responded, referring to the young age of the victims.
Twelve of them are under the age of 18, two of whom are 4-year-old twin brothers, and the rest are between the ages of 20 and 30.
Tourists from different ethnic minorities were part of a total of four buses on their way to Skopje after a long weekend in Istanbul.
Is it a technical glitch or a human error? The cause of the tragedy, which occurred at around 2am (0 am GMT) near the village of Bosnek, has not yet been determined. According to the lawsuit, the vehicle was relatively new.
The windows were smashed as the survivors were behind. They include a 16-year-old girl.
In Skopje, panicked residents gathered in front of the headquarters of a travel agency that was arranging this kind of visit to Istanbul, believing that their loved ones were not on a dangerous journey.
“We always invite Pesa tours, but no one responds,” Xhelal Bakiu told the media without a message from his cousin.
According to reports quoted in the Slobodan Begot newspaper, another person said, “I have lost everything in my family,” and ten relatives died.
A school in the capital mourned the deaths of five of its students and suspended classes, local newspapers reported.
European Commission President Ursula van der Leyne expressed his condolences and expressed “unity of the EU at this terrible time”. Russian President Vladimir Putin also issued a message of support.
According to officials, this is the worst train accident in Bulgaria to date.
Last pre-August 2018: 20 tourists were killed when a vehicle veered off the road in torrential rain in the northern mountains of Sofia.
The Balkans, home to 6.9 million people, recorded about 628 road deaths in 2019 and 463 in 2020, a lower-than-normal number due to health restrictions restricting travel.
It is also one of the EU’s highest balance sheets due to poor road conditions, dilapidated traffic and frequent speeding.
Bulgaria, a member of Bulgaria since 2007, recently upgraded the highway in question with EU funding. But the Road Safety Association said the area includes very steep lanes without dividing the line. To the authorities.
Elsewhere in Europe, we must go back in 2010 to find traces of such a dramatic crash: 45 people were killed when a train and a bus collided at a level crossing in Ukraine.