A tourist bus traveling from Istanbul to North Macedonia crashed and burst into flames in Bulgaria early Tuesday morning, killing at least 45 people and injuring 7, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
Although the cause of the crash was not immediately confirmed, the crash happened at around 2 A.M. when the bus hit a highway guardrail, according to AP. Lubomir Jovevski, North Macedonia’s chief prosecutor, said that 12 children were among the dead involved in the crash.
Officials said the bus was one of four traveling together through western Bulgaria Tuesday morning, according to AP. Bulgarian Interior Minister Boyko Rashkov said at the crash site he had “never in my life seen something more horrifying.” (RELATED: Deadly Bus Crash In New Mexico Kills At Least Seven Aboard Greyhound)
“The picture is horrifying, the people who were on the bus are turned to charcoal,” Rashkov said, according to AP. “It is impossible to say how many they were. There were four buses that traveled together, and it is possible that passengers changed buses during the stops.”
#UPDATE Forty-six people, including a dozen minors, were killed after their tourist bus caught fire on a Bulgarian highway early on Tuesday in Europe’s deadliest road accident in the past decade https://t.co/kNAjW3VbCe #Bosnek pic.twitter.com/1fv2nu3DKH
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) November 23, 2021
North Macedonian media reported that police had arrived at the offices of a travel agency in the country’s capital, Skopje, that is believed to have organized the trip to the Turkish capital, AP reported.
North Macedonian prime minister Zoran Zaev told Bulgarian media he was able to speak to one of the survivors aboard the engulfed bus.
“One of the passengers told me that he was asleep and woke up from an explosion,” Zaev told Bulgarian channel bTV, according to AP. Zaev noted that law enforcement officials will gather information that is “important for the families of the dead and the survivors.”
Twenty-eight people were killed and twenty-eight others were injured when a tour bus lost control and sped down a cliff on Portugal’s Madeira Island in 2019, CNN reported.