A bus accident, which caught fire, caused the death of at least 45 people, including five children, in the night from Monday to Tuesday in Bulgaria.
The first reports were of victims from North Macedonia, where the bus was registered. But according to the police, only the two drivers came from Macedonia, the passengers being “all Albanians”.
Seven passengers rescued
“The only thing that is clear is that the bus had Macedonian license plates”, commented on his side the interim Bulgarian Prime Minister, Stefan Yanev, who went to the scene and refused to give details of the nationality of the victims. The tragedy took place around 2 a.m. (00 a.m. GMT) on the highway near the village of Bosnek, 40 km south of Sofia, said Commissioner Nikolay Nikolov, head of the Disaster Control Service speaking on public television. BNT.
“Seven passengers were saved” and evacuated to a hospital in the capital, he said. These are two women and five men. “The driver died instantly, so there was no one to open the doors” and allow passengers to escape the fire, National Police Chief Stanimir Stanev said on another channel.
The bus struck the crash barrier for some reason at this point. The road had been recently renovated with funds from the EU of which Bulgaria has been a member since 2007. Twelve minors, including five children, were in the vehicle, which came from Istanbul and was heading for Skopje. They all died in the accident.
“The survivors are traumatized, they have lost loved ones, children. They jumped out of the windows, ”said Maya Arguirova, head of the burn treatment center where they were transported. “It is a tragedy”, reacted the Prime Minister of North Macedonia Zoran Zaev, questioned by the Bulgarian media. “Teams are going to go there to take part in the rescue”.
Old roads and vehicles
The last serious coach accident in Bulgaria dates back to August 2018: 17 passengers died as the vehicle drove in torrential rain, with Bulgarian tourists on board returning from a visit to a monastery in a mountainous region north of Sofia .
Bulgaria, a country of 6.9 million inhabitants, recorded some 628 road deaths in 2019 and 463 in 2020, a figure lower than normal due to health restrictions which limited travel. This is one of the highest balance sheets in the European Union due to the poor condition of the roads, the dilapidated vehicle fleet and frequent speeding.