Tragic accident on Bulgarian highway leaves at least 45 dead

At least 45 people, including 12 children, died in a bus crash on a highway in western Bulgaria on Tuesday, most of them tourists from North Macedonia, officials said.

There were 53 people on board. Seven survivors needing treatment for burns were rushed to an emergency hospital in the Bulgarian capital Sofia, Nikolay Nikolov Bulgarian senior official from the Interior Minister, told BTV commercial broadcaster.

“At least 45 people were killed after a bus caught fire and crashed, or crashed and then caught fire,” the official stressed.

“The picture is terrifying, terrifying. I have never seen anything like that before,” Bulgarian Interior Minister Boyko Rashkov stated.

The accident happened on Struma highway about 45 km west of Sofia around 2:00 am local time (00:00 GMT).

“Human mistake by the driver or a technical malfunction are the two initial versions for the accident,” Bulgarian investigative service chief Borislav Sarafov said.

The site has been sealed off and Bulgarian interim Prime Minister Stefan Yanev rushed to the scene of the tragedy. “We have an enormous tragedy here,” he emphasised.

North Macedonian Foreign Minister Bujar Osmani said the coach party was returning to Skopje from a weekend holiday trip to Istanbul, Turkey.