Investigators say the deadly bus crash in Bulgaria was most likely caused by “human error”.
At least 44 people were killed when the vehicle caught fire after hitting a guardrail on a wet motorway near Sofia on Tuesday. It is considered to be one of the deadliest such accidents in Europe in a decade.
Most of the victims were tourists from North Macedonia, travelling home in a convoy of buses from Turkey.
Authorities initially put the death toll at 45 but said on Thursday that only “44 bodies” had been recovered from the scene.
A first report said that 52 people were on board the bus, while seven survived the crash and fire. Investigators are probing whether one of the suspected victims had moved to another bus during a break on the journey.
Deputy Prosecutor General Borislav Sarafov said on Thursday that investigators believe the accident could have been aggravated by traffic.
“The most likely hypothesis is that of human error,” Sarafov told reporters, adding that authorities are not ruling out that “bad signalling” could have misled the driver.
Bulgaria’s chief prosecutor has also called for a nationwide inspection of road markings and road signals on motorways and major roads.
Passengers were trapped inside the vehicle after it caught fire and died “mainly of suffocation”, Sarafov added on Thursday.
Those who survived after escaping through a broken window were all hospitalised in Sofia and are all reported to be in a stable condition.