A bus carrying North Macedonians home from a tourist trip to Istanbul crashed and caught fire in western Bulgaria early Tuesday, killing at least 45 people, authorities and local media said.
The accident happened around 2 a.m. and there were children among the victims, authorities said. Seven people were taken to hospitals for treatment.
The cause of the crash was not immediately confirmed, but it appeared that the bus hit a highway guard rail, crashed and caught fire.
The bus was one of four traveling together. Officials said an investigation will be launched.
Photos taken shortly after the crash showed the bus engulfed in flames with plumes of thick, black smoke rising from the scene.
Bulgarian news agency Novinite said representatives from North Macedonia’s embassy visited a hospital where some of the victims were taken.
North Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev told Bulgarian television channel bTV that he had spoken to one of the bus survivors.
“One of the passengers told me that he was asleep and woke up from an explosion,” Zaev told bTV, adding that the authorities will gather information that is “important for the families of the dead and the survivors.”