18 con­firmed dead in fiery Ger­man bus crash

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - WORLD -

A bus car­ry­ing Ger­man se­nior ci­ti­zens on va­ca­tion crashed into a truck Mon­day on a high­way in Bavaria and burst into flames, killing 18 peo­ple and in­jur­ing 30 oth­ers, some se­ri­ously, of­fi­cials said.

The ac­ci­dent took place around 7 a.m. when the bus rear-ended a trailer-truck at the end of a traf­fic jam on the A9 high­way near Muench­berg, not far from the Czech bor­der. The ac­ci­dent led to long traf­fic jams on the A9, the main thor­ough­fare from Berlin to Mu­nich.

It was not im­me­di­ately clear what caused the crash, but pros­e­cu­tors have opened an in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The bus seemed to have caught fire im­me­di­ately upon im­pact with the truck, Trans­port Min­is­ter Alexan­der Do­brindt told re­porters af­ter tour­ing the crash site. The truck’s trailer also burst into flames.

“Two peo­ple are still in lifethreat­en­ing con­di­tion,” Do­brint said.

Two driv­ers and 46 pas­sen­gers were on the bus. The re­mains of all bod­ies were re­cov­ered from the bus, in­clud­ing that of the driver at the wheel dur­ing the crash, po­lice said.

Po­lice said the truck driver was not in­jured.

Some 200 emer­gency crews rushed to the scene and five he­li­copters whisked the in­jured to nearby hos­pi­tals. Sim­ple wooden coffins were wheeled in for the re­mains re­cov­ered from the black­ened, twisted wreck­age of the bus.

Po­lice said the ages of those on the bus ranged from 41 to 81 and they were pri­mar­ily from the eastern Ger­man state of Sax­ony. The news agency dpa re­ported that all the pas­sen­gers were Ger­man.

Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel thanked the emer­gency crews in­volved.

“Our thoughts are with the fam­i­lies of the vic­tims and we wish all those who were in­jured a speedy re­cov­ery,” she said.

Do­brindt said when fire­fight­ers first ar­rived, the fire was so hot that they couldn’t get any­where close to the burn­ing ve­hi­cle to res­cue those stuck in­side.

“All they could do was ex­tin­guish the fire,” he said. “The heat was so strong that noth­ing that’s in­flammable is left from the bus — only the steel frame.”

The A9 high­way re­mained closed on both sides for hours. Po­lice tweeted later that the A9 high­way go­ing south would be shut down for the day.

AP PHOTO

The wreck­age of a burnt-out bus re­mains at the scene of a fa­tal ac­ci­dent near Muench­berg, Ger­many, Mon­day.

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