Hungary in mourn­ing af­ter 16 die in bus crash

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

IT COULD take days to of­fi­cially iden­tify the 16 peo­ple killed when a bus car­ry­ing Hun­gar­ian stu­dents re­turn­ing from a ski trip crashed in Italy, Hungary’s for­eign min­is­ter said yes­ter­day.

For­eign Min­is­ter Peter Sz­i­j­jarto said 54 pas­sen­gers and two Hun­gar­ian driv­ers were on the bus that crashed on an Ital­ian high­way near Verona, just be­fore mid­night on Fri­day.

Sz­i­j­jarto, vis­i­bly shaken by news of the ac­ci­dent, said the days ahead would re­main emo­tion­ally chal­leng­ing.

“Time has passed since the tragedy, but the pain is even sharper,” he told re­porters.

“As the shock fades, the losses be­come more ex­cru­ci­at­ing. The long, more painful process, like the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of bod­ies, is about to be­gin.”

Most of the pas­sen­gers were pupils from a Bu­dapest high school re­turn­ing from a ski­ing trip in France.

Four pas­sen­gers re­mained hos­pi­talised with se­ri­ous in­juries.

Sz­i­j­jarto said one of the uniden­ti­fied adults in crit­i­cal con­di­tion suf­fered third-de­gree burns on 60% of his body; the other had un­der­gone surgery for a se­ri­ous head in­jury.

Candles were still burn­ing yes­ter­day out­side Szinyei Merse Pal High School, where hun­dreds of stu­dents, par­ents and friends took part in a vigil Satur­day evening.

Sz­i­j­jarto said the cause of the fatal ac­ci­dent has yet to be de­ter­mined.

Mean­while, Ital­ian of­fi­cials said the bus burst into flames af­ter hit­ting a high­way bar­rier and then ram­ming into an over­pass sup­port col­umn.

“The bus was prac­ti­cally fully de­stroyed by the pil­lar of the high­way over­pass,” Sz­i­j­jarto said. “For now, we can’t re­spon­si­bly say how ex­actly the bus got there.”

Af­ter con­flict­ing re­ports about the num­ber of peo­ple on the bus, Sz­i­j­jarto con­firmed that the pas­sen­gers in­cluded 43 mi­nors and 11 adults.

The min­is­ter said sev­eral par­ents who trav­elled to Verona had pro­vided DNA sam­ples to help with the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion process.

Sz­i­j­jarto said he al­ready spo­ken to the fam­ily of one of the re­ported victims, a young fut­sal player who be­longed to the same sports club as the min­is­ter.

Most survivors of the crash were ex­pected to re­turn to Hungary yes­ter­day, with Hungary’s na­tional am­bu­lance ser­vice pro­vid­ing trans­porta­tion for the in­jured.

Hungary has de­clared to­day a na­tional day of mourn­ing in mem­ory of the victims.

Flags on public build­ings will be flown at half-staff, and schools around the coun­try have been asked to hold com­mem­o­ra­tions.

Mean­while, crim­i­nal neg­li­gence charges are be­ing weighed against the own­ers of the bus.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors raided the of­fices of Pi­zolit­busz Ltd in the south­ern Hun­gar­ian city of Kiskun­fel­e­gy­haza yes­ter­day, look­ing for in­for­ma­tion about the tech­ni­cal spec­i­fi­ca­tions of the bus.

The owner of the bus com­pany told the MTI news agency yes­ter­day that the Se­tra 317 GT-HD bus was in good con­di­tion be­fore the trip.

He said he could not ex­plain the ac­ci­dent. – AP and dpa

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.