A bus carrying pilgrims to a shrine in Bosnia crashed in northern Croatia on Saturday, killing at least 12 people and injuring several others, authorities said.
The Croatian interior minister said the victims were likely Catholic pilgrims heading to the shrine in Medjugorje.
The ministry first announced on Twitter that 11 people had died. Officials said another passenger later died in a hospital and the bus was carrying 43 people.
About 30 people were injured – 18 of them seriously – and were transported to several hospitals in Zagreb, said the director of the Croatian emergency services, Maja Grba Bujevic.
Croatian public television HRT said the most likely cause of the crash was the driver falling asleep.
The broadcaster showed video of a broken blue bus in a ditch beside the highway. The bus was heading towards Zagreb, the capital of Croatia.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said the bus was carrying pilgrims to the Catholic shrine in Medjugorje, a town in southern Bosnia. The shrine is Europe’s third most popular pilgrimage destination after Lourdes and Fatima, although the Vatican has not verified any of the reported miracles witnesses have claimed to have seen there.
“This morning I discussed the details of the tragedy with Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, who ensured the full support of Croatian medical services,” Morawiecki posted on Facebook. “I recommended to our consular services to organize a support organization for the families of the injured.”
Croatian Interior Minister Davor Bozinic said the bus came “from a place near Warsaw” and reports suggested it was carrying pilgrims to Medjugorje.
The accident occurred at 05:40 local time (03:40 GMT) about fifty kilometers north of Zagreb, on the A-4 highway, which is very busy in the high tourist season.
Rescue teams were sent to the scene of the accident and an investigation into the causes of the accident was underway, Croatian media reported.