As many as 17 people may have died in a coach crash on the German autobahn.
A tour bus crashed in northern Bavaria, between the towns of Hof and Bayreuth. A police spokesman told reporters that there were ‘several dead’, although he could not give a specific figure.
There were 46 passengers and two drivers on the bus, which crashed shortly after 7am on Monday. It collided with a trailer in slow-moving traffic on the autobahn and caught fire. Thirty-one people have been taken to hospital in Bayreuth, leaving 17 unaccounted for.
“It is completely possible that some people did not make it out of the bus, it’s unclear where 17 of them are” said a police spokeswoman, Anne Höfer, to media. Some of the casualties are severe and considered life-threatening.
Credit: Google Maps; The coach crashed in an area between Bayreuth and Hof
The bus remains as a charred skeleton on the motorway. Several emergency helicopters were on the scene quickly and around 200 rescue workers are on the ground.
They were able to get some of the victims out of the burning bus, but all those not accounted for are presumed to have died within the bus. The shell of the bus is currently too hot for rescue workers to enter safely.
The driver of the truck into which the bus crashed was also injured and is being spoken to by police. The traffic on the A9 has been stopped in both directions while the rescue operation continues. It is expected to remain closed for the rest of the day and there are already huge traffic jams.
According to German media, the bus was travelling from the region of Lausitz, between Leipzig and the Polish border close to the city of Cottbus, and was heading for the Bavarian city of Nuremburg. Die Welt reported that many of the passengers were elderly and they were on an organised tourist trip when the accident occurred.
The A9 autobahn on which the coach was travelling is one of the busiest in Germany, connecting the northern cities of Berlin, Leipzig and Dresden with the city of Munich, the Czech Republic and tourist destinations in the Alps.