In a tragic incident which occurred on a highway in western Bulgaria on Tuesday when a bus with North Macedonian plates caught fire and crashed at least 46 people have died, officials said. Most of the victims were from North Macedonia, local media report. The accident happened on the Struma Motorway near the village of Bosnek as it was traveling from Sofia to Blagoevgrad.
North Macedonia’s foreign minister, Bujar Osmani, said the bus had taken a trip to Istanbul over the weekend. Nikolai Nikolov, the head of the fire safety department at the Bulgarian Interior Ministry, told media that 52 people had been traveling on the bus when it crashed around 2 a.m. local time.
“At least 46 people were killed after a bus caught fire and crashed, or crashed and then caught fire,” Mr. Nikolov was quoted as saying, according to Reuters. He added that children had been among the victims.
Seven people with burns were taken to a hospital in Sofia, Maya Argirova, head of the burn clinic in Pirogov Hospital, told reporters.
On Tuesday, the minister for foreign affairs of Bulgaria, Svetlan Stoev, and Mr. Osmani of North Macedonia spoke by phone, according to a release posted on Bulgaria’s site for the ministry of foreign affairs. Mr. Osmani was en route to the Pirogov Hospital, where he would meet with Mr. Stoev, according to the release.
Zoran Zaev, the departing prime minister of North Macedonia, expressed condolences to the families of the victims. “I am horrified by the tragedy, I am sorry for the incident,” said Mr. Zaev, who offered his resignation in October, after a defeat in local elections.