By Francesca Merlo
At least 46 people, including 12 children, died early on Monday morning after a bus crashed on a motorway in Bulgaria. The bus, registered in north Macedonia, was travelling from Turkey to Macedonia when it crashed and caught fire some 40 km south of Sofia.
Bulgarian Police chief Stanimir Stanev confirmed that there were 52 people on board. Of these, 7 survived and were hospitalised with severe burns.
The cause of the accident has yet to be determined. The bus overturned after hitting the guardrail, but it is not yet clear whether it caught fire before or after.
Macedonian Foreign Minister Bujar Osmani told reporters the coach party had been returning to the capital Skopje from a weekend holiday trip to the Turkish city of Istanbul.
The survivor's escape
Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev spoke to one of the survivors, who told him that passengers were sleeping when the sound of an explosion woke them u. "He and the other six survivors broke the windows of the bus and managed to escape and save themselves," Mr Zaev told Bulgarian media.
Bulgaria's interim Prime Minister Stefan Yanev described the incident as "a huge tragedy".
Closeness of Europe's leaders
"Our thoughts are with the victims of the horrific accident in Bulgaria, their families and all frontline workers. I wish the injured a speedy recovery. Be strong. The EU is ready to provide support in any way it can," European Council President Charles Michel said on Twitter.
Ursula von der Leyen also wished to express her condolences to the families of the victims . "At this terrible moment, Europe stands in solidarity with you," the EU Commission President said.