WORLD NEWS

12 children among 45 people killed in Bulgaria bus fire

Nov 23, 2021, 7:19 AM
At least 45 people, including 12 children, were killed when their bus crashed and erupted in flames...
At least 45 people, including 12 children, were killed when their bus crashed and erupted in flames in Bulgaria early Tuesday, authorities said. (Minko Chernev/BTA Agency Bulgaria/AP)
(Minko Chernev/BTA Agency Bulgaria/AP)

(CNN) — At least 45 people, including 12 children, were killed when their bus crashed and erupted in flames in Bulgaria early Tuesday, authorities said.

Authorities believe the bus was carrying a total of 52 passengers, most of whom were tourists from North Macedonia, when the incident occurred at around 3 a.m. local time Tuesday.

The bus, which had a North Macedonian registration, was traveling on the Struma highway west of the Bulgarian capital Sofia. The bus driver was among the dead, according to Bulgarian National Television (BNT).

After initially reporting 46 deaths, authorities later said it was unclear whether 45 or 46 people had died, BNT reported.

Authorities said seven people — two women and five men — who were traveling in the back of the bus survived by breaking the windows to escape. They have been taken to Pirogov emergency hospital in Sofia and are in stable condition.

Authorities added that identification of the dead would be difficult as the bodies were severely damaged by the fire, BNT reported.

Bulgarian Interior Minister Boyko Rashkov, who visited the crash site, told reporters he saw bodies “clustered inside” and “burnt to ash.” He said “the picture is terrifying,” adding “I have never seen anything like this before.”

The cause of the accident was unclear but the bus appeared to have hit a highway barrier either before or after it caught fire, Bulgarian officials said.

Footage from Nova TV Bulgaria showed the charred remains of the bus on the side of the highway, with the mangled barrier wedged beneath the vehicle.

Emergency responders were seen standing near fire trucks and a police van while an investigator in a white protective suit surveyed the scene taking photographs. Behind the vehicle, damage to the center divider was visible with debris strewn across both sides of the highway.

Speaking alongside Rashkov, the director of Bulgaria’s National Investigation Service, Borislav Sarafov, called the incident “a huge tragedy” and offered his condolences to the families of the victims.

Sarafov said the bus was one of four belonging to a tourist company from North Macedonia that entered Bulgaria late Monday from Turkey, BNT reported. The bus was returning to Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia, from Istanbul — a journey of around 800 km (500 miles) — when the accident occurred.

At this stage in the investigation, Sarafov said officials were exploring two possible causes of the accident. “One is a human error of the bus driver, the second is a sudden technical malfunction, which led to the accident,” he said, according to BNT.

BNT reported that Rashkov added: “There is a guardrail here, which was simply taken away, which means that most likely for some reason the bus went to the right in the direction of travel and came into contact with the guardrail, which was simply destroyed. We heard all sorts of versions, including a fuel leak. I hope it will be clarified very soon and the colleagues from the investigation will do their job.”

Authorities will also be investigating the stretch of highway where the accident occurred, which is prone to traffic incidents, according to BNT.

‘Great grief’

“This is a huge tragedy,” North Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev told reporters in Sofia and expressed his condolences to relatives of the victims, Reuters reported.

Zaev said the passengers were all from North Macedonia but appeared to include a Serbian citizen and a Belgian citizen. It was unclear whether the two were among the victims or injured.

Zaev said he had spoken to one of the seven survivors who told him the passengers were sleeping when they were woken by the sound of an explosion.

He said people sitting at the back of the bus were able to break a window and jump out.

Zaev said the passengers were from various communities in North Macedonia, a country of 2 million that borders Bulgaria and is home to an ethnic Albanian minority.

In Skopje, ethnic Albanian Osman, 31, told Reuters he had come to the office of the travel agency with his brother and sister seeking information about their parents.

“We do not know if they were on the bus that crashed or not. We have no information about them. The agency is not answering the phone. Perhaps we will need to go to Bulgaria,” he said.

Albanian Foreign Minister Olta Xhacka said the passengers were from North Macedonia’s ethnic Albanian community.

“Great grief for the 45 lost lives of Albanians from Northern Macedonia during the tragic accident in Bulgaria,” he said on Twitter.

Bulgarian officials have launched an investigation into the incident, state media reported.


The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

World News

Utah Task Force 1 Headquarters (KSL-TV)...
Jed Boal

Utah Task Force 1 gives insight into search & rescue efforts in Turkey

Two American search & rescue teams similar to Utah's Task Force 1 are heading off to Turkey to help the country recover from a devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake.
1 day ago
Sailors assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group 2 recover debris from a suspected Chinese sur...
Haley Britzky

US Navy releases photos of Chinese spy balloon recovery effort

The U.S. Navy released photos Tuesday of its recovery effort of a suspected Chinese spy balloon, which U.S. fighter jets shot down over the Atlantic Ocean on Saturday.
1 day ago
A baby girl who was born under the rubble caused by an earthquake that hit Syria and Turkey receive...
Ghaith Alsayed and Bassem Mroue, Associated Press

Newborn, toddler saved from rubble in quake-hit Syrian town

Residents digging through a collapsed building in a northwest Syrian town discovered a crying infant whose mother appears to have given birth to her while buried underneath the rubble from this week’s devastating earthquake.
1 day ago
Earthquake victims receive treatment at the al-Rahma Hospital in the town of Darkush, Idlib provinc...
Lauren Steinbrecher

Utah Turkish American Association finding ways to help after 7.8 earthquake

In Utah, Turkish Americans are desperately trying to get news from home, and one group is starting to think of how Utahns can help bring relief to their home country.
1 day ago
Smoke billows from the Iskenderun Port as rescue workers work at the scene of a collapsed building ...
Mehmet Guzel, Ghaith Alsayed and Suzan Fraser

Race to find survivors as quake aid pours into Turkey, Syria

Search teams and emergency aid from around the world are pouring into Turkey and Syria as rescuers working in freezing temperatures dig through the remains of buildings flattened by a magnitude 7.8 earthquake.
1 day ago
Elif Ekin was born in Turkey, and now owns and operates Kahve Cafe in Salt Lake City. (KSL-TV)...
Jed Boal

‘It’s devastating:’ Utahn born in Turkey expresses her concerns after 7.8 earthquake

A Salt Lake City café owner was born not too far from the epicenter of the 7.8 Turkey earthquake and still has family and friends in that area.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
12 children among 45 people killed in Bulgaria bus fire