The death toll of the Budapest-Split highway accident rises to 12, coming this morning at dawn 50km north of Zagreb, Croatia, when a pilgrim bus coming from Poland, bound for Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina, he exited the lane and then crashed into a ditch.
Turin, accident at dawn: two dead and two injured in a head-on collision between bus and car
Croatia, the accident this morning in Zagreb
The collision was very violent: none of the surviving passengers was unharmed and, alongside the twelve dead, there were also eighteen seriously injured, some in very critical conditions, and others fourteen minor. Most of the victims, as well as the seriously injured, were seated at the front of the vehicle. Eleven people died instantly and one died shortly after in a hospital in the Croatian capital. All the victims were Polish nationals. The first ambulances, called by a passenger trapped under the bus sheets, arrived within thirteen minutes. The scenes described by the rescuers were terrifying.
“I have been working as a firefighter for almost thirty years and I have never seen such a massacre,” said one of the firefighters, visibly shaken. It is one of the most serious road accidents in recent Croatian history, surpassed only by the one that occurred in 2008 to a Slovak bus that went off the road, which caused the death of fourteen tourists. The Polish bus left yesterday from a town near Warsaw, to make a stop in other places in Poland and welcome other passengers, with the final destination being the Marian shrine of Medjugorje. On board were 42 pilgrims, including three priests and six nuns, and the two drivers, a total of 44 people. The Polish government immediately sent a team of doctors and psychologists to assist the injured. I am also the Minister of Health and the Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs of Warsaw on my way to Croatia. The causes of the accident are not yet known and the Croatian police have opened an investigation.
The press immediately speculated that one of the two drivers fell asleep behind the wheel, but the authorities did not want to confirm. Jacek Antoszkiewicz, the owner of the transport company Megapol confirmed that the bus belonged to him, adding that the drivers were experienced and professional. “I can’t believe that either of them fell asleep, or that they were tired, I’m speechless, this is an unimaginable tragedy,” he added.