Officials say a bus collision and fire in western Bulgaria killed at least 46 people, including 12 children.
The bus had a North Macedonian registration, and the majority of the passengers were tourists returning from a vacation to Istanbul, Turkey.
At around 02:00 local time, it slammed into a crash barrier on a highway south-west of Sofia’s city (00:00 GMT).
Seven individuals fled from the bus and were treated for burns at the hospital.
The collision claimed the lives of four-year-old twin brothers.
Bulgarian Interior Minister Boyko Rashkov stated the survivors were seriously burnt after visiting the “terrifying scene.” The disaster’s cause was not immediately apparent. The bus drove off the highway and tore a 50m (164ft) portion of the crash barrier away, according to Bulgarian officials, however it was unclear if this happened before or after it took fire.
A piece of the road where the barrier had been ripped off was seen in the aftermath photos. There were no other automobiles involved in the collision.
According to the mayor of Pernik, the freeway in that part was in bad condition, and there were frequent accidents in the region
The coach group was returning to Skopje on a weekend holiday trip to Istanbul, according to Macedonian Foreign Minister Bujar Osmani.
According to Bulgarian media, the bus was part of a convoy of four buses that had stopped at a gas station outside Sofia approximately an hour before the tragedy. The other buses, which were a few minutes ahead of us, made it safely back to North Macedonia. The dead have yet to be formally identified, but officials say there were 12 youngsters among them, as well as numerous young individuals aged 20 to 30.
Among those deceased were a young couple who were about to marry. Gazmend Ukali, 27, and Albina Beluli, 23, from the northwestern town of Tetovo, were alleged to have traveled to Istanbul to celebrate Ukali’s birthday, according to Macedonian sources.