Dozens of people have been “burnt to ash” in a fiery bus crash, including a mum who reportedly died clutching her twins.
Forty-six people have been killed after a fire broke out on a crashed bus in Bulgaria.
The tragedy occurred on a motorway at 2am local time near the village of Bosnek. Bulgaria’s ministry official Nikolai Nikolov tragically confirmed children were among the victims of the horrific blaze.
Mr Nikolov said that 12 children were among the victims of the blaze.
According to news site 24Chasa, a woman was found burned alive with her two dead children – who were reportedly twins – in her arms near the doors of the bus.
One of the survivors said they were sleeping when they heard a “powerful explosion”, local media reports.
Footage showed the burnt-out bus surrounded by firefighters and emergency crews who had rushed to the scene.
The cause of the crash and fire is still being investigated by authorities – but local reports say it may have hit a kerb or a guardrail.
Reports say the driver could have been killed when the bus hit a guardrail meaning he was unable to open the doors to allow people to escape.
Seven people have been taken to hospital with burns after jumping from the burning bus – and 46 people have died following the tragedy. There were 53 people on board.
Local media said the survivors broke a window and leapt out of the vehicle.
“I am absolutely horrified by the terrible accident and loss of life in Bulgaria early this morning, especially of young children,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said. “Our prayers go out to the families of those who lost their lives. A speedy recovery to those injured.”
“We have an enormous tragedy here,” Bulgarian interim Prime Minister Stefan Yanev told reporters.
Interior Minister Boyko Rashkov said: “People are clustered inside and are burnt to ash.”
“The picture is terrifying, terrifying. I have never seen anything like that before,” he told reporters at the site.
Bulgarian investigator Borislav Sarafov said: “Human mistake by the driver or a technical malfunction are the two initial versions for the accident.”
North Macedonian Foreign Minister Bujar Osmani said the coach party was returning to the capital Skopje from a weekend holiday trip to the Turkish city of Istanbul.
A hospital official said the survivors receiving treatment were all in a stable condition.
But the horrific scenes from the site of the fire were described by Bulgarian Interior Minister Boyko Rashkov, who said the victims‘ bodies were “completely burnt out.”
In 2019, Bulgaria, which has a population of seven million, had the second-highest road fatality rate in the European Union with 89 people killed per million, according to official data.
628 people died in road accidents that year with 463 dying in 2020 with the clashes and collisions often attributed to outdated cars, speeding and poor road conditions, reports Daily Sabah.