Balkan neighbors mourn victims of Bulgarian bus fire

Balkan neighbors mourn victims of Bulgarian bus fire

Sophia – Bulgaria and North Macedonia began periods of national mourning on Wednesday, a day after a bus carrying tourists to neighboring North Macedonia crashed and caught fire, killing 45 people.

The bus carrying 52 passengers in a convoy of buses was returning from a trip to Turkey. Although the exact cause of the crash has yet to be determined, the bus apparently broke through a protective barrier on a highway, quickly catching fire and burning completely. Among the dead were 12 children.

Bulgaria holds a day of national mourning on Wednesday, while North Macedonia has started a three-day period. National flags were raised for all state institutions while entertainment events were cancelled.

Pope Francis also sent a telegram of condolences in which he conveyed his prayers, especially to the families of the young victims.

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And the cable signed by the Vatican Secretary stated: “Considering in particular the children who died, he commends the souls of the deceased for the mercy of God Almighty, and reassures the bereaved and affected families of his prayers.” State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

Seven survivors were hospitalized at the main emergency hospital in the Bulgarian capital Sofia, where they sustained severe burns and body injuries.

North Macedonia’s Foreign Minister Bujar Osmani visited the hospital on Wednesday, telling reporters that he was there to meet patients and facilitate communication between family members and institutions in Bulgaria.

Forensic doctors from Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia, are also expected to join their Bulgarian colleagues in Sofia to conduct DNA tests to identify the bodies of those killed in the accident.

Bulgarian Interior Minister Boyko Rashkov told reporters at the crash site on Tuesday that he had never seen “something more terrifying” and that the identification process would take time.

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The North Macedonian Foreign Ministry said that among the survivors were five North Macedonian nationals, a Serb and a Belgian.

Albanian Foreign Minister Ulta Chaka said almost all of the dead were of Albanian origin, but it was not clear if they were also citizens of North Macedonia.

The burning shell of the bus was pulled onto a truck on Wednesday, accompanied by police on the outskirts of Sofia.

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Nicole Winfield contributed to Rome.

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