Around 45 people, including 12 children died as a bus that carries mostly North Macedonian tourists crashed in flames on a highway in western Bulgaria on Tuesday. The horrible accident took place on Struma highway around 45 km (28 miles) west of Sofia around 2:00 a.m. (0000 GMT). North Macedonian Foreign Minister, Bujar Osmani, said the coach party was returning to Skopje from a weekend holiday trip to Istanbul.
Seven people who jumped from the burning bus were immediately taken to hospital in Sofia. Fortunately, according to hospital staff, they were in stable conditions.
The cause of the accident remains unclear as it is currently under investigation. However, the bus appeared to have hit a highway barrier either before or after it caught fire, said a Bulgarian official. Bulgarian investigative service chief, Borislav Sarafov, said four buses entered Bulgaria late on Monday from Turkey. “Human mistake by the driver or a technical malfunction are the two initial versions for the accident,” he said.
TV footage showed that the fire burned the bus in the middle of the highway. Interior Minister, Boyko Rashkov, added that “People are clustered inside and are burnt to ash.” The area around the site of the incident has now been sealed off for investigation purposes.
“The picture is terrifying, terrifying. I have never seen anything like that before,” he told reporters at the site. “I am terrified. This is such a huge tragedy,” North Macedonian Prime Minister, Zoran Zaev, told the BTV channel. Zaev has already reached his Bulgarian neighbor to discuss the incident.