Bulgaria: Car packed with migrants catches fire

Image copyright AFP Image caption Rescuers rescued the survivors from the bus

Thirteen children are among 45 people who have died in a bus fire in Bulgaria.

The driver and three other adults died when the bus burst into flames after veering into a bush path along the Danube in southern Bulgaria.

Officials said it may have been an accident and added that an investigation is under way.

The Bulgaria Monitor agency said the children, who are aged from five to 16, are among 85 migrants and refugees who live at the state-run camp near the centre of the village of Smaragov, about 90km (55 miles) from Varna.

“The situation is terrible. There is no hope,” Sofia-based hospital official Emiliana Vrajeva was quoted as saying by The Associated Press news agency.

Smaragov town mayor Saralin Petkov said that in all, the bus was carrying 42 migrants, including a mother with two children.

Image copyright AFP Image caption Firefighters pull the charred remains of the bus from the car park

“The fire quickly spread throughout the bus as well as into the car’s bay,” he said.

Varna region’s chief of police, Ivan Valiev, said four of the 43 survivors were critically injured and 17 had minor injuries.

The vehicle – a government-owned bus operated by Sova transport company – was carrying 44 people, one of whom is believed to be a baby girl.

The official Bulgarian news agency, MIA, reported that the bus was travelling from an international refugee camp near the village of Svair, in the neighbouring country of Turkey, before crossing the border into Bulgaria.

The Bulgarian government called for donations of food, clothing and other necessities.

Bulgaria, whose government is under pressure over spiralling tensions between the European Union and its member states, is among the EU’s most welcoming nations when it comes to refugees and migrants.

But the country is operating two camps for migrants and refugees, which are open to the public to provide accommodation for some 2,500 people.

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