Hor­rific bus crash

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE -

Many Ger­man se­niors die in flames after coach hits truck

MU­NICH — Eigh­teen peo­ple are feared dead after a bus car­ry­ing a group of Ger­man se­nior ci­ti­zens crashed into a truck on a high­way in Bavaria on Mon­day and burst into flames, police said.

Thirty peo­ple were in­jured in the ac­ci­dent, some se­ri­ously, while 18 still con­sid­ered miss­ing “are be­lieved to have died on the burn­ing bus”, police said in a state­ment.

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

Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel thanked the emer­gency crews in­volved and sent the govern­ment’s trans­port min­is­ter, Alexan­der Do­brindt, to the scene.

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

Au­thor­i­ties said foren­sic spe­cial­ists were be­ing brought in from Ger­many’s fed­eral police of­fice to re­move and iden­tify bod­ies from the charred ve­hi­cle. Police spokes­woman Irene Bran­den­stein said the work was la­bor in­ten­sive be­cause the bus was so badly dam­aged by the fire.

“The in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the ac­ci­dent is very com­plex and time-con­sum­ing,” Bran­den­stein said.

The ac­ci­dent took place around 7 am when the bus rear-ended the trailer-truck at the end of a traf­fic jam on the A9 high­way near Muench­berg in Bavaria, not far from the Czech bor­der.

The ac­ci­dent led to long traf­fic jams on the A9, the main thor­ough­fare from Ber­lin to Mu­nich. The high­way re­mained closed on both sides for hours and police tweeted later that the road lead­ing south would be shut down for the en­tire day.

It was not im­me­di­ately clear what caused the ini­tial traf­fic jam.

Two driv­ers and 46 pas­sen­gers were on the bus, Bran­den­stein said. It was not known if the per­son driv­ing the bus at the time was dead or alive.

By the time fire­fight­ers ar­rived and ex­tin­guished the flames, the bus was a black, smok­ing skele­ton.

Police said the group on the bus was se­niors from Sax­ony in east­ern Ger­many. The Ger­man news agency dpa re­ported that all pas­sen­gers were Ger­mans.

A phone num­ber was ac­ti­vated to pro­vide fam­ily mem­bers with in­for­ma­tion.

If those miss­ing are con­firmed killed, the ac­ci­dent at the start of the sum­mer hol­i­day sea­son would be one of the worst to hit Ger­many.

Among the dead­li­est in re­cent years was a col­li­sion in June 2007, when 13 peo­ple were killed as their tour bus drove off the road and plunged sev­eral me­ters down a slope in east­ern Sax­ony-An­halt state.

Across Europe, the last such ac­ci­dent struck on Jan 21 in Italy, when an ac­ci­dent in­volv­ing a Hun­gar­ian bus car­ry­ing teenagers left 16 dead.

NEWS 5 VIA REUTERS

Fire­fight­ers are seen at the site where a coach burst into flames after col­lid­ing with a truck on a mo­tor­way near Muench­berg, Ger­many, on Mon­day.

CHINA DAILY — AFP

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