– The view is terrifying – said Deputy Prime Minister and head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Bojko Raszkow, who together with Janew and the head of the National Investigation Service, Borisław Sarafov, went to the site of the tragedy near the city of Pernik.
The bus was Macedonian and the last to travel in the column of four vehicles returning from a trip to Istanbul. Shortly before the accident, the coach stopped for a while, which makes it more difficult to identify travelers as someone might have been on or off at that time.
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According to preliminary findings, the coach hit the barrier separating the road and caught fire. The survivors managed to break windows and get out of the vehicle on their own. The driver failed to open the door and is one of the victims.
According to Sarafov, the cause could be a sudden technical fault in the vehicle or a human error. It is possible that the driver had a heart attack and lost control of the coach. Sarafov also said the victims’ bodies were charred and that DNA expertise would be required to identify them.
Among the passengers was a Belgian national
52 people traveled by bus, 46 of whom are dead. According to Al Jazeera Balkans, 12 minors, including twins, are among the victims. The coach driver also died.
Those traveling by bus were of North Macedonian citizenship, and according to Macedonian Foreign Minister Bojar Osmani, one passenger was Belgian. He also confirmed information about children among the fatalities.
The Prime Minister of North Macedonia, Zoran Zaev and Osmani went to the accident site and then visited the wounded in a hospital in Sofia.
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– This is a great tragedy – said the head of the Ministry of the Interior. He added that most of the victims come from Skopje. The condition of the injured is stable and, according to the doctors, their lives are not in danger.
In an interview with public television, Zaev said that, according to information he received, travelers had heard the explosion before the fire appeared. The investigation will be conducted simultaneously in Bulgaria and North Macedonia.
VIDEO: According to Al Jazeera Balkans, 12 minors, including twins, are among the victims
Questions about the quality of roads in Bulgaria
The tragic accident raised questions about the quality of Bulgarian roads and highways. This issue became famous three years ago, when 20 people died in an accident near Sofia. Local authorities and numerous witnesses of the accident recognized the condition of the road as the cause of the accident, but as a result of an investigation in this case, only the driver was blamed. Subsequently, a road safety agency was established, which, however, did not record any particular achievements.
The then deputy of the left, Elena Jonczeva, now an MEP, demanded international expertise on the quality of national roads. For this reason, threats were made against her, including by the then Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov.
SEE: Pawłowice. Head-on collision between a car and a bus. One person is dead and several are injured
On Tuesday, Deputy Prime Minister Atanas Pekanov, who is in charge of EU funds in the government, said that it is very difficult to control road construction because the road agency and construction companies separating the funds are financially tied. He stressed that for this reason, the expertise should be just international. According to Pekanow, an additional problem is the lack of control over the maintenance of the road infrastructure.
In recent weeks, the Janewo government and the Ministry of the Interior have revealed a huge corruption scandal surrounding the construction of two sections of the highway to Varna, worth several billion euros.
Local authorities had previously reported that similar incidents had occurred frequently at the scene of the accident.
wys / PAP / polsatnews.pl