By Agence France-Presse
Eighteen people were killed Monday in one of the deadliest road accidents in Germany’s recent history when a tour bus carrying mostly pensioners smashed into a trailer truck and burst into flames.
Emergency workers have retrieved bodies of the victims who are aged 66 to 81, police said in a statement.
The driver of the bus was among those killed while the truck driver escaped unhurt.
The blaze was so powerful “that only steel parts are still recognisable on the bus, and from that you can understand what it means for the people on this bus,” Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt said.
Thirty people were hospitalised, two of them with life-threatening injuries, the minister told reporters at the site of the accident.
The bus was carrying 46 passengers and two drivers — mostly from the east German state of Saxony, when it rammed into the truck in a traffic jam on the A9 motorway, police said.
The group was heading for Nuremberg when the accident happened, Bild newspaper said.
The accident happened near the small Bavarian town of Stammbach, in a region dotted with spas and castles that are popular with summer vacationers.
Television images showing only the charred skeleton of the vehicle remaining.
Chancellor Angela Merkel voiced “great dismay” over the crash.
“Our thoughts and condolences go to the victims and their family members, as well as to the injured,” a spokesman said. “We hope that those who have been rescued will recover from their injuries.” (AFP)