Eighteen dead as tour bus goes up in flames


Up to 18 people are believed to have been killed after a coach collided with a lorry and burst into flames in southern Germany.

The accident happened on the A9 motorway near the town of Bayreuth in Bavaria at around 7am local time.

Around 46 passengers, plus two drivers, were on board the tour bus at the time of the smash.

Thirty people were hurt, some suffering serious injuries. The others on board “are believed to have died on the burning bus”, police said.

Footage shows both vehicles completely gutted by the fire.

Forensic specialists attended the scene to help identify the bodies of the victims among the charred wreckage of the bus.

The remains of the dead were recovered and taken away from the scene in wooden coffins.

The coach was travelling from the eastern region of Lausitz in the direction of Nuremberg when it crashed into the lorry at the end of a traffic jam, according to Bild.

The lorry load included beds and pillows and also immediately went up in flames, the German newspaper said.

It is unclear what caused the collision, which is being investigated.

A German senior citizens tour group was travelling on the bus from Saxony, police spokeswoman Irene Brandenstein said..

“The investigation of the accident is very complex and time-consuming,” she said.

Information about the truck driver has not been disclosed. It is also unknown if the two bus drivers were among those who died.

Up to 200 emergency services personnel including firefighters, rescuers in helicopters and paramedics attended the incident.

“Our thoughts go to the victims and their family members, as well as to the injured,” said Steffen Seibert, a spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“We hope that those who have been rescued will recover from their injuries.”

The A9 – the main route from Berlin to Munich – was closed in both directions for several hours.

Police later tweeted that the southbound carriageway would be closed for the entire day.