/Bulgaria Bus Crash Kills Dozens – The New York Times

Bulgaria Bus Crash Kills Dozens – The New York Times


Bulgaria

Bus Crash

Kills Dozens

SOFIA, Bulgaria — At least 45 people died when a bus caught fire and crashed on a highway in western Bulgaria on Tuesday, officials said.

The bus had been carrying 52 people, including 12 children, when it broke through the guardrail between the two sides of a highway near the village of Bosnek, in western Bulgaria, around 2 a.m. local time, according to the Bulgarian Interior Ministry.

The vehicle had North Macedonian plates and had been making a return weekend trip with three other buses from Istanbul to Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia, the ministry said.

Some people jumped through the vehicle’s windows to escape the flames, local news outlets reported. Victims included the driver and a number of young children.

Boyko Rashkov, the Bulgarian interior minister, visited the site of the accident on Tuesday. “The picture is horrifying,” he told reporters, adding that the victims’ bodies had turned to ash, making it difficult to identify them. “I haven’t seen anything like this before.”

Seven survivors with burns and lacerations, including a teenage girl, were taken to Pirogov Hospital in Sofia, Maya Argirova, head of the burn clinic there, told reporters. The injured are in good condition and will be transported to Skopje when they have fully recovered, according to hospital officials.

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev of North Macedonia visited the hospital on Tuesday.

“It is a terrible tragedy because many of them are children,” Mr. Zaev said of the victims, adding that he had spoken to one of the injured who had managed to break a window of the bus and help several people escape. “He explained that they were sleeping on the bus when a loud explosion was heard,” Mr. Zaev said.

Stanislav Vladimirov, mayor of Pernik, a Bulgarian town close to the scene of the crash, said that accidents often occurred in the area.

“This is one of the most difficult routes in the country,” he told reporters. “The road there has a very steep grade.”

Stefan Yanev, the acting prime minister of Bulgaria, also visited the site of the crash on Tuesday. “This news shook us,” he told reporters, adding that his government was working swiftly to investigate what had happened.

On Tuesday, the Bulgarian minister for foreign affairs, Svetlan Stoev, and his North Macedonian counterpart, Mr. Osmani, spoke by phone, according to a news release posted on the website of the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Mr. Osmani was en route to Pirogov Hospital, where he would meet with Mr. Stoev, according to the release.

On Twitter, Mr. Stoev posted that Bulgaria would do everything to take care of the victims and to find the cause of the “tragedy.”

In 2018, a tourist bus carrying 33 pilgrims from a village north of Sofia crashed on the way to a monastery, killing at least 16 people and injuring 26 others.


 

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