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Dozen Children Among 45 Dead In Bulgaria Tourist Bus Fire

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Forty-five people including 12 children have been killed after a bus burst into flames on a highway in western Bulgaria on Tuesday.

epa09598490 Fire fighters, police officers and investigators inspect the wreckage of a bus with North Macedonian plates that caught fire on a highway, killing at least 45 people, near the village of Bosnek, Bulgaria, 23 November 2021.

There were 53 passengers on board, most of whom were tourists from North Macedonia, when the vehicle either “caught fire and crashed, or crashed and then caught fire”, an interior ministry representative said.

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Seven people who jumped from the burning coach were taken to hospital in Sofia, the capital, and treated for burns, said Nikolai Nikolov, the head of the fire safety department at the interior ministry. A hospital official said the survivors were all in a stable condition.

The accident happened on the Struma highway, 28 miles west of Sofia, at about 2am local time. The passengers were on their way back to Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia, after a weekend holiday trip to Istanbul in Turkey, said Bujar Osman, the North Macedonian foreign minister.

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Boyko Rashkov, the Bulgarian interior minister, described a “terrifying” scene inside the vehicle and said the disaster was unlike anything he had seen before. “People are clustered inside and are burnt to ash,” he told reporters at the site.

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The cause of the accident remains unclear but officials have said that the bus appeared to have struck a road barrier at some point during the incident.

Borislav Sarafov, Bulgaria’s investigative service chief, said either there had been a “human error by the driver or a technical malfunction”.

Zoran Zaev, the outgoing prime minister of North Macedonia, told the Bulgarian news channel BTV: “I am terrified. This is such a huge tragedy.”

Representatives from Macedonia’s embassy visited the hospital in Sofia where some of the victims were taken, according to the Bulgarian news agency Novinite.

Stefan Yanev, Bulgaria’s interim prime minister, was reported to be on his way to the site.

Photo Credit: Getty

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