46 killed in bus crash on Bulgaria highway

Published November 24, 2021
Officials work at the site of a bus accident, in which at least 46 people were killed, on a highway near the village of Bosnek, south of Sofia, on Tuesday. — AFP
Officials work at the site of a bus accident, in which at least 46 people were killed, on a highway near the village of Bosnek, south of Sofia, on Tuesday. — AFP

BOSNEK: North Macedonia called for three days of national mourning after a tourist bus carrying its citizens caught fire and crashed in Bulgaria on Tuesday, killing 46 people in Europe’s deadliest road accident in the past decade.

Although the cause has yet to be determined, officials believe the bus crashed into the guardrails and caught fire while returning from Istanbul in Turkey to Skopje in North Macedonia.

Those who died trapped in the burning bus — including four-year-old twins, according to media reports — were mostly from North Macedonia, prompting the government to declare three days of mourning.

The flag of the Republic of North Macedonia will be flown at half-mast.

Bulgaria has also declared a day of mourning on Wednesday.

Only four men and three women, including a 16-year-old girl, survived the crash by breaking one of the windows and jumping to safety, according to officials.

“I lost my whole family in the blaze,” one man told the Sloboden Pecat newspaper, saying 10 relatives had died.

Media in North Macedonia reported that several of the dead were from a Skopje primary school, where all classes were stopped.

The accident happened after midnight on a highway about 40km from Sofia, near the village of Bosnek.

Many of the dead were between 20 to 30 years old, officials said.

Local media said the bus was registered with the Besa Trans tourist agency, which organises sightseeing and shopping tours to Istanbul.

It was one of four buses travelling back to Skopje along the same highway at short intervals.

The tour bus company did not immediately respond when contacted by AFP for comment.

Images showed the carcass of the charred bus after it broke through the highway’s central guardrail.

Bulgaria’s interim Prime Minister Stefan Yanev said a probe into the accident had been launched, dismissing suggestions that road conditions were to blame.

Deputy chief prosecutor Borislav Sarafov said they were still investigating “if it was a technical fault of the vehicle or a human error that caused the crash”.

North Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev told state news agency MIA that he had spoken to one survivor. “He explained that they were sleeping in the bus when an explosion was heard. They succeeded in breaking one of the windows and saved a few people.”

Published in Dawn, November 24th, 2021

Opinion

Editorial

New Covid danger
30 Nov 2021

New Covid danger

The government’s messaging around the coronavirus and the potential threat of Omicron must be reactivated.
30 Nov 2021

Saudi conditions

DECADES of fiscal profligacy have trapped the country in a situation where it not only has to borrow more money to...
30 Nov 2021

Mental health concerns

THE economic and psychological effects of Covid-19, combined with the issues of joblessness and inflation, have had ...
Land misuse
Updated 29 Nov 2021

Land misuse

THE contrast could not be more stark, and elite capture no better illustrated. On the one hand are the middle-class...
29 Nov 2021

Act of altruism

DECEASED organ donation needs to become part of the national discourse. To that end, our lawmakers must adopt a far...
29 Nov 2021

Animal neglect

THE callousness shown by our state and society towards humanity is often such that it comes as no surprise that less...