13 dead as Polish bus crashes on German motorway

Sunday, September 26, 2010

BERLIN/WARSAW - Thirteen Polish nationals were killed Sunday when a bus with holidaymakers on board crashed into a motorway bridge on the outskirts of the German capital Berlin.

The bus, run by the Polish POL-BUS travel operator, was carrying employees of the forestry office in the western Polish town of Zlocieniec who were returning from a company trip to Spain with their families.

Another 38 people were injured, many of them seriously. Among them is the 37-year-old car driver who police believe caused the accident.

The woman lost control of her car while driving onto the motorway. It then collided with the bus, which in turn careered into the support pillar of a motorway bridge.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk flew to Berlin in the wake of the accident, visiting survivors in hospital.

“Thank you for your dedication and your help,” Tusk told emergency workers, visibly shocked.

Tusk planned to meet Chancellor Angela Merkel later in the evening to discuss further steps.

“Here in Germany, we are mourning together with Poland’s citizens,” Merkel told Tusk during an earlier telephone conversation.

Senior politicians, including Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and President Christian Wulff, also expressed their condolences.

Upon visiting the site of the crash, Brandenburg state premier Matthias Platzeck said it was “one of the worst things we have ever had to experience”.

Dead bodies, vehicle parts and personal belongings such as suitcases and shoes had been strewn across the road when rescue teams arrived. The crushed bus, containing many of the victims, stood by the support pillar it had driven into.

Voluntary firefighter Lutz Ulbricht said he was shocked by the “gruesome scene”.

“I have never seen anything like it,” he added.

Zlocieniec authorities were planning to send two buses to Berlin to bring home uninjured passengers. A total of 49 people, including two drivers, had been on board.

Filed under: Accidents and Disasters

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