About a dozen children were on the bus as seven passengers were saved and taken to a hospital, the interior ministry says.

At least 45 people have died in an overnight bus accident on a highway in western Bulgaria, according to local officials.

The cause of Tuesday’s accident, which saw the vehicle crash in flames at about 2am local time while travelling along a highway 45 kilometres (26 miles) from the capital, Sofia, was yet to be determined.

Bulgaria’s interior ministry put the death toll at 45 people, making it the most deadly accident of its kind in the Balkan country’s history.

Officials said 12 children had been on board the vehicle. It was not immediately clear if any of them had survived.

The bus, which was heading from Turkey to North Macedonia, appeared to have hit a highway barrier either before or after it caught fire near the village of Bosnek, according to officials.

Seven people who leapt from the burning vehicle were rushed to hospital in Sofia and were in stable conditions, hospital staff said.

Interior Minister Boyko Rashkov, who visited the site of the accident, said the bodies of those who died in the incident were “clustered inside [the bus] and are burnt to ash.”

“The picture is terrifying, terrifying. I have never seen anything like that before,” he told reporters.

Television footage showed the bus charred and gutted by fire in the middle of the highway, which was wet from rain.

“We have an enormous tragedy here,” Bulgarian interim Prime Minister Stefan Yanev told reporters.


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