BOSNEK: At least forty-six people were burnt to death after their tourist bus caught fire on a Bulgarian highway early Tuesday in Europe’s deadliest road accident in the past decade.
A cause has yet to be determined but officials believe the bus crashed into the guardrails and caught fire while travelling from Istanbul in Turkey to Skopje in North Macedonia.
There were no other vehicles involved in the accident, which occurred around 2:00 am (0000 GMT) on a highway about 40 kilometres (26 miles) from Sofia, near the village of Bosnek.
Seven people — five men and two women — survived.
“Unfortunately, there are many victims, 46, including 12 minors,” North Macedonian Health Minister Venko Filipce told public BNT television after visiting the survivors in a Sofia hospital.
The survivors include a 16-year-old girl and are all from the same family and in stable condition, official said.
The dead were mostly from North Macedonia and from different ethnic groups and also included a Belgian and a Serbian national, officials said.
Local media in Macedonia said the bus was registered with the “Besa trans” tourist agency, which organises tours to Istanbul.
Bulgaria’s interim Prime Minister Stefan Yanev said a probe into the accident had been launched, dismissing the suggestion that road conditions were to blame.
Images showed the carcass of the charred bus after it broke through the guardrails between the two sides of the highway.
North Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev told state news agency MIA that he had spoken to one survivor.