Fiery Ger­many bus crash kills 18

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

STAMM­BACH, Ger­many: Eigh­teen peo­ple were killed yes­ter­day in one of the dead­li­est road ac­ci­dents in re­cent Ger­many his­tory when a tour bus car­ry­ing pen­sion­ers smashed into a trailer truck and burst into flames. Emer­gency work­ers re­trieved 11 bod­ies and a search for the re­mains of seven other vic­tims was un­der­way, Trans­port Min­is­ter Alexan­der Do­brindt said. The blaze was so pow­er­ful “that only steel parts are still rec­og­niz­able on the bus, and from that you can un­der­stand what it means for the peo­ple on this bus,” he said. Thirty peo­ple were hos­pi­tal­ized, two of them with life-threat­en­ing in­juries, the min­is­ter told re­porters at the site of the ac­ci­dent. The bus was car­ry­ing 46 pas­sen­gers and two driv­ers from the east Ger­man state of Sax­ony, head­ing for Nurem­berg, when it rammed into the truck in a traf­fic jam on the A9 mo­tor­way, Bild news­pa­per said. The ac­ci­dent hap­pened near the small Bavar­ian town of Stamm­bach, in a re­gion dot­ted with spas and cas­tles that are pop­u­lar with sum­mer va­ca­tion­ers. Tele­vi­sion im­ages show­ing only the charred skele­ton of the ve­hi­cle re­main­ing. Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel voiced “great dis­may” over the crash. “Our thoughts and con­do­lences go to the vic­tims and their fam­ily mem­bers, as well as to the in­jured,” a spokesman said. “We hope that those who have been res­cued will re­cover from their in­juries.” Some 200 emer­gency work­ers were de­ployed to the site, in­clud­ing fire­fight­ers, res­cue per­son­nel and po­lice, while south­bound traf­fic on the mo­tor­way re­mained blocked. Foren­sic spe­cial­ists were brought in from Ger­many’s fed­eral po­lice of­fice to re­move and iden­tify bod­ies from the charred ve­hi­cle. Do­brindt said res­cue work was dif­fi­cult be­cause the bus was so badly da­m­aged. When fire­fight­ers first ar­rived, the site was so hot that they couldn’t get any­where close to the burn­ing ve­hi­cle to res­cue those locked in­side, he said, adding “All they could do was ex­tin­guish the fire.”The rel­a­tives of the vic­tims have not yet been con­tacted be­cause ex­perts are still work­ing on iden­ti­fy­ing the bod­ies, Do­brindt said. A phone num­ber was ac­ti­vated to pro­vide fam­ily mem­bers with in­for­ma­tion. Psy­chol­o­gists and coun­selors were talk­ing to the in­jured and also to the res­cue per­son­nel. With the likely toll, the ac­ci­dent at the start of the sum­mer hol­i­day sea­son is one of the worst to hit Ger­many in re­cent me­mory. In June 2007, 13 peo­ple were killed when a tour bus plunged down a slope in eastern Ger­many’s Sax­ony-An­halt state. In Septem­ber 1992, 21 peo­ple died when a bus swerved out

of its lane and struck a truck be­fore ram­ming into the road di­vider in the south­west­ern Black For­est, an­other big tourist des­ti­na­tion. Across Europe, the last fa­tal ac­ci­dent on a sim­i­lar scale was on Jan 21 in Italy, when an ac­ci­dent in­volv­ing a Hun­gar­ian bus car­ry­ing teenagers left 16 dead. In France, a head-on crash in Oc­to­ber 2015 be­tween a truck and a bus car­ry­ing pen­sion­ers claimed 43 lives. — Agen­cies

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