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45 North Macedonia tourists burnt to death as bus catches fire in Bulgaria

Fifty two passengers were on board, including the driver. Seven people who jumped out of the burning bus are undergoing treatment in a hospital in Bulgarian Capital Sofia. They are out of danger. The tourists were returning from Istanbul. Bulgaria has the second-highest road fatality rate in Europe.

SOFIA (Bulgaria), Nov 24: Forty five passengers, including 12 children, were burnt to death on Tuesday when their bus caught fire on a highway in western Bulgaria early on Tuesday.

Seven people who jumped out of the burning bus were rescued and were undergoing treatment in a Sofia hospital. The passengers were tourists from North Macedonia's ethnic Albanian community. Fifty two people were on board including the driver.

Most of the victims were tourists from North Macedonia, an official from the country's embassy told BTV, where the bus was registered and the driver was from. It was one of four travelling together.

They were returning to North Macedonia Capital Skopje, after a weekend holiday trip to Istanbul in Turkey, said North Macedonian Foreign Minister Bujar Osman.

Bulgaria's Interior Minister Boyko Rashkov told reporters at the site, "The picture is terrifying, terrifying. I have never seen anything like that before."

The bus appeared to have struck a road barrier either before or after it caught fire. "I am terrified. This is such a huge tragedy," North Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev told BTV. He said he had spoken to one of the survivors who told him passengers were sleeping when they were woken by the sound of an explosion.

The seven survivors - two women and five men - receiving treatment were all in a stable condition, and one had a broken leg.

Bulgarian Interim Prime Minister Stefan Yanev visited the crash site and described the incident as "a huge tragedy".

Bulgaria has the second-highest road fatality rate in the 27-nation European Union, with 89 people killed per million, according to European Commission data.

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