Bulgarian Deputy Public Prosecutor Sarafov: Bus crash victims died from suffocation; there were no cans with fuel on bus


Borislav Sarafov, the Deputy Public Prosecutor and Director of the Bulgarian National Investigation Service sаys that the victims in the bus crash near the city of Pernik, when 45 passengers of the bus owned by a NMacedonia transporter lost their lives in the fire on the motorway, died as a result of suffocation.

“The autopsies are almost finished and they show that all of the victims in the accident have died from suffocation from the smoke and not from injuries that occurred during the catastrophe or from any explosion,” Sarafov said.

He stressed that while plenty of information is being spread that the bus was transporting fuel cans with diesel, the investigation has shown that the bus fire was not started by them. “That thesis was investigated by us and rejected. The fire didn’t start from the gas cans,” said Sarafov in a press conference.

He explained that there wer  three tubes with diesel residues on the bus, but they even weren’t caught by the fire.

“I want to reject one version about a terrorist act, which I didn’t tell you about after the incident, but this issue was professionally investigated. We took acetone probes for the detection of explosives. With the insight provided by witnesses and those who were at the location quickly after the accident we categorically reject this version. It’s not a terrorist act, but our work demanded we should investigate it,” stressed Sarafov when he addressed the media.

Further, so far, two of the surviving passengers in the bus were questioned and both stated they were awake when the incident happened.

According to Sarafov, at the moment, the basic version of the reasons behind the accident is a human mistake, but the Bulgarian prosecutor are seriously investigating the problems with the road safety barriers and the signalization including the movements.

“For now, the basic version is that this is a human mistake. But, now is the moment to state something that the media have stressed very objectively and correctly stressed. Actually, we also see what you were stating i.e. the version of bad road markings, bad signalization and bad organization of the movements across the road.
The road safety barrier that the bus has hit wasn’t just placed wrongly – it is outright dangerous. These conclusions will be investigated by us – whether there was a human mistake and whether it was assisted by a bad signalization” said the main investigator Mariyan Marinov.

According to the investigation, on the location of the tragedy there are markings of breaking even before and after the road barrier, which means that the driver reacted before the crash with the barrier.

Marinov and Sarafov explained that there wasn’t an explosion but an intense sparkling that was caused by the friction that was created during the hit. In turn, this has caused sparks that have lit the fuel tank, which was located at the front of the bus, on fire.

The investigator also said that during the accident, the investigation has shown that 9 stakes of the road barrier were shorn off and the whole road barrier was located between the crashed bus’ front tire and the front door.

“That is where the fuel tank is located, by the stairs,” said Marinov.

He said that the experts will investigate how the sparks have ignited and how the diesel fuelhas caught on fire. According to him, both doors of the bus were blocked i.e. the front door was on fire and the back door was blocked by the bus’ position.

At the moment, in Bulgaria, there are 44 bodies counted in the accident, and according to the testimonies by one of the survivors, there may be another passenger who might have survived the tragedy said the spokeswoman of the Bulgarian Public Prosecutor Sijka Mileva during today’s press conference.

Still, she said that there is a possibility of bad memory on part of the survivor.

At the moment there are 44 bodies that are in the process of identification and in the shortest time possible maybe even by tomorrow, we shall receive the DNA samples from the relatives that were sampled by our Macedonian colleagues and we shall conduct a correct identification and send the bodies to the Macedonian state,” said Mileva.

She stressed that one of the survivors that is in a hospital in Sofia claimed adamantly that 8 passengers survived and not 7, as many as there are in the hospital.

She had no definite answer about the reasons for this mismatch of numbers, but it is possible it’s a bad memory of a survived witness.

“We found 44 bodies. According to the data, there were 52 passengers on the bus, and in the hospital, there are 7 persons – 4 men and 3 women. We are puzzled about where might the 8th person be. We don’t want to presume, as it can be a case of a bad memory. The main investigation service will investigate the patient that I spoke with. He categorically said, with the aid of a translator, that 8 persons have saved themselves,” said Mileva.

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