Police say up to 18 people lost their lives when a tour bus burst into flames after it collided with a trailer truck in southern Germany. The incident occurred early on Monday when a bus carrying 46 passengers and two drivers rammed into the trailer on a motorway near the town of Muenchberg in Germany’s southeastern state of Bavaria.
There were 48 tourist pensioners, mainly from the eastern state of Saxony on the bus and they were aged between 41 and 81, according to police. “It’s clear now that all 18 of the missing people on the bus died in the accident,” police said on Twitter.
The bus was transporting a group of tourists from Saxony state in eastern Germany to Nuremberg city in northern Bavaria. The crash led to the closure of the A9 highway in both directions and the deployment of some 200 emergency workers to the site, including firefighters, rescue workers and police.
German officials said that emergency workers had so far retrieved 11 bodies from the bus wreck and work was underway to find another seven killed in the incident. The flames that engulfed the bus “were so strong 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,” said German Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt.
Expressing sympathy with the injured and bereaved relatives, German Chancellor Angela Merkel voiced “great dismay” over the crash while her spokesperson said, “Our thoughts and condolences go to the victims and their family members, as well as to the injured. We hope that those who have been rescued will recover from their injuries.”
The Monday accident at the start of the summer holiday season was one of the worst to hit Germany. In one of the deadliest incidents, 13 people lost their lives in June 2007 when their tour bus crashed in the eastern German state of Saxony.