A total of 12 minors and 34 adults were burned to death early this morning when a bus caught fire on a road in western Bulgaria, near the town of Bosnek, some 40 kilometers south of Sofia, the Bulgarian Interior Ministry said.
At least 46 dead, including 12 children, when a bus caught fire
The bodies of the victims were “completely burned”, said the head of the Ministry, Boyko Rashkov, at the scene of the accident, reports the BTV channel.
The images broadcast by this public television showed the bus chassis completely burned.
Only seven people managed to survive by jumping out of the vehicle. They were taken with burns and minor injuries to a hospital in Sofia, where they remain in “stable” condition.
The burned vehicle, carrying at least 53 people, including two drivers, had North Macedonian license plates and was returning from a tourist visit to Istanbul (Turkey).
The accident, the causes of which are under investigation, occurred at around 02.00 local time (00.00 GMT) on the “Struma” highway, which connects Sofia with Blagoevgrad, from where the bus was heading to the border with North Macedonia.
The Norwegian Government was immediately informed of the incident, after which several members of the Government, including Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and Foreign Minister Buyar Osmani, travelled to Sofia and to the scene of the accident.
It is not ruled out that the driver had fallen asleep
Bulgarian Interior Minister Boyko Rashkov said that, among the various hypotheses being considered, it is not ruled out that the driver fell asleep or died before the rest of the passengers, which is why he was unable to open the doors to save the passengers from the flames.
According to the Bulgarian press, four buses of a Norwegian tourist company were traveling together and entered the country through the Kapitan Andreevo checkpoint on the Bulgarian-Turkish border.
Shortly before the tragic accident, the buses stopped to rest at a gas station. Authorities closed the highway in the area of the accident.