2021 Bulgaria bus crash

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2021 Bulgaria bus crash
Date23 November 2021
Time02:00 (UTC+2)
LocationNear Bosnek, Pernik Province, Bulgaria
Coordinates42°29′27″N 23°07′53″E / 42.49083°N 23.13139°E / 42.49083; 23.13139Coordinates: 42°29′27″N 23°07′53″E / 42.49083°N 23.13139°E / 42.49083; 23.13139
Deaths45
Non-fatal injuries7

On 23 November 2021, at 2 a.m. local time, a Macedonian bus crashed and caught fire in western Bulgaria. The accident happened on the Struma motorway near the village of Bosnek, south-west of Sofia. Fifty passengers and two drivers were on the bus. Forty-five people died in the crash, including twelve children. Seven other passengers suffered burns but initially survived. It is currently the deadliest road accident in Bulgarian history, and has been referred to as the deadliest bus crash in Europe in a decade.

The Dolna Dikanya to Dragichevo section of the Struma Motorway was temporarily closed following the incident.

Background

According to European Commission data, in 2019 Bulgaria had the second highest road fatality rate in the EU. After the accident, the mayor of the nearby town of Pernik told local media outlets that the motorway was in poor condition and accidents were frequent in the area.

Taken in 7 April 2009
A section of the Struma motorway. The crash site is at the base of the furthest terraced hill

Accident

A bus carrying Macedonian tourists returning to the capital Skopje from a weekend holiday trip to Istanbul, registered under the tourist agency "Besa Trans", crashed on a motorway near the Bulgarian village of Bosnek around 02:00 local time. The vehicle hit a highway barrier either before or after it caught fire. A passenger later told reporters that he had been asleep and was woken by an explosion.

The Bulgarian Interior Minister Boyko Rashkov [bg] stated that the victims' bodies were "completely burned". Seven passengers (five males and two females) managed to escape through windows with serious burns. All seven were hospitalised in critical condition. Initial theories around the cause of the incident include driver error and technical malfunction.

The majority of the victims were Macedonian Albanians. Forty-four people were confirmed dead during the immediate aftermath of the crash, but after an additional search on 26 November, the body of a child was recovered, bringing the death toll to 45.

Reactions

Bulgarian caretaker Prime Minister Stefan Yanev described the crash as a tragedy, saying "[l]et's hope we learn lessons from this tragic incident and we can prevent such incidents in the future." The government declared Wednesday a National Day of Mourning for both victims of the crash and for the earlier deaths from a fire at a nursing home in Royak. Numerous politicians from various countries expressed their dismay at the loss of life.

The Macedonian government declared three national days of mourning for the bus crash.

See also