18 dead in fiery Bavar­ian bus crash

In­tense heat pre­vents fire­fight­ers from at­tempt­ing res­cue in bus car­ry­ing se­nior ci­ti­zens

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - KIRSTEN GRIESHABER

BERLIN — A bus car­ry­ing Ger­man se­niors on hol­i­day slammed into the back of a truck that had slowed for a traf­fic jam and burst into flame Mon­day, killing 18 peo­ple on a ma­jor high­way in Bavaria, au­thor­i­ties said.

More than two dozen peo­ple who were hurt es­caped the bus be­fore it be­came fully en­gulfed in fire, po­lice said. By the time the blaze was put out, only the ve­hi­cle’s charred, twisted frame re­mained.

The bus from the eastern state of Sax­ony rear-ended the trailer-truck on the A9 near Muench­berg, north of Nurem­berg and not far from the Czech bor­der. Of the 30 peo­ple in­jured, at least two were re­ported in life-threat­en­ing con­di­tion, au­thor­i­ties said.

“Af­ter we got there, no­body else got off the bus,” Muench­berg fire­fighter An­dreas Hentschel told the dpa news agency.

The ac­ci­dent oc­curred at around 7 a.m. There was no rain and vis­i­bil­ity was good. The in­ves­ti­ga­tion, which in­cluded pros­e­cu­tors, was look­ing into what type of cargo the truck was haul­ing, po­lice said.

The bus driver was among the dead. The truck driver was not in­jured, po­lice said. The rest of the fa­tal­i­ties were men and women be­tween 66 and 81 years old, po­lice said.

A to­tal of 48 peo­ple were on the bus, in­clud­ing two driv­ers. The pas­sen­gers were pri­mar­ily from Sax­ony. Some 200 first re­spon­ders 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 bus.

When fire­fight­ers first ar­rived, the fire was so hot that they could not get close to the burn­ing bus to res­cue those stuck in­side, Trans­port Min­is­ter Alexan­der Do­brindt told re­porters at the crash site.

“All they could do was ex­tin­guish the fire,” he said. The heat was so in­tense that it de­stroyed the en­tire bus and ev­ery­thing in­side ex­cept for the steel frame.

MATTHIAS BALK, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The wreck­age of a burnt-out bus at the scene of a fa­tal ac­ci­dent on the mo­tor­way A9 near Muench­berg, Ger­many, Mon­day. Eigh­teen se­niors were killed.

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