Twelve people were killed and 32 injured, 19 of them seriously, in a crash of the bus with Polish licence plates that slipped off a road in northwestern Croatia early on Saturday, Croatian Health Minister Vili Baros said.
“All victims are Polish citizens... We are working on the ground to provide all the injured and the families of the victims with assistance on the spot,” Łukasz Jasina, spokesman for the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said.
The bus with a few dozen pilgrims was heading to the Catholic pilgrimage site Međugorje in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Police, firefighters and medical teams were deployed to the site of the accident which occurred at 5:40 a.m. near Breznicki Hum in the direction of the capital Zagreb, police reported.
The section of road near the scene has been closed to traffic to allow for the rescue of the passengers.
Those injured have been taken to hospitals in Zagreb and Varaždin , Total Croatia News reported, citing the local fire brigade.
Rescue workers have already recovered the bodies of people killed onboard the bus.
Polish top officials express their condolences
Polish President Andrzej Duda expressed his condolences to the families of the victims. “In cooperation with Croatian emergency services and authorities, we are taking all possible measures to help our compatriots
,” he wrote on social media.
Poland’s Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau also referred to the accident on social media. “My deep condolences to the families of the victims of the bus accident in Croatia. I spoke to the Foreign Minister of Croatia about the situation
and thanked the Croatian state services and the public for their assistance,” he wrote.
Polish Health Minister visits accident site
Health Minister Adam Niedzielski, Deputy Foreign Minister Marcin Przydacz, as well as medics and psychologists, travelled to Croatia to assist the survivors of the crash.
During a press conference, Minister Niedzielski was asked about how many of the survivors would be able to return to Poland that very day. Mr Niedzielski refused to give a specific number, stressing that the doctors must first assess their state of health, although he said that “there will definitely be enough room for them on the plane”. He added, however, that a cursory review of the medical assessments indicates those currently in the hospital in Zagreb he visited were the most severely injured, and none of them qualified to be taken back to Poland at the moment.