SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — A bus carrying people home to North Macedonia from a tourist trip to Istanbul crashed and caught fire in western BulgariaAuthorities and local media reported at least 45 deaths on Tuesday early in the morning.

Authorities said that the accident took place at around 2 AM and included children. Seventeen people were treated in hospitals.

While the exact cause of the crash is not known, it seems that the bus crashed into a guard rail on the highway, caught fire, and exploded.

One of the four buses was traveling with each other. Officials confirmed that they will launch an investigation.

The bus caught fire shortly after it crashed.

Interior Minister Boyko Rashkov told reporters at the crash site that he had “never in my life seen something more horrifying.”

“The picture is horrifying, the people who were on the bus are turned to charcoal,” Rashkov said. “It is impossible to say how many they were. The buses were all connected and passengers could have changed between them at stops.

Officials are at the scene of the bus crash that claimed the lives of many people on the highway south of Sofia on November 23, 2021.
Getty Images: NIKOLAY DYCHINOV

North Macedonian media reported that there were police outside the offices in Skopje of a company which is suspected to have organized the trip.

Bulgarian Caretaker Prime Minister Stefan Yanev, who also visited the site of the crash, told reporters it was “a huge tragedy.”

“I take this opportunity to send my condolences to the relatives of the victims,” Yanev said. “Let’s hope we learn lessons from this tragic incident and we can prevent such incidents in the future.”

Bulgarian news agency Novinite said representatives from North Macedonia’s embassy visited a hospital where some of the victims were taken.

North Macedonia’s prime minister, Zoran Zaev, told Bulgarian television channel bTV that he had spoken to one of the bus survivors.

“One of the passengers told me that he was asleep and woke up from an explosion,” Zaev told bTV, adding that the authorities will gather information that is “important for the families of the dead and the survivors.”

In a statement posted online, North Macedonia’s president, Stevo Pendarovski, called it a “horrific accident” and said that he expects the authorities to conduct a full investigation to determine the “causes and responsibility for the tragedy.”

Bulgaria was an EU country of 7,000,000 people with the 2nd-highest rate for road deaths in all 27 countries, at 89 per million. According to European Commission data,

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McGrath reported in Bucharest (Romania)

Source: HuffPost.com.

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