A collision between a bus and a car on the AP-7 highway, near Freginals in Tarragona, left at least 13 people dead in the early hours of Sunday morning, according to Catalan regional authorities.
A total of 57 people were travelling on the coach after having spent the day in Valencia to attend the Fallas festival celebrations. The bus was headed back to Barcelona when the accident happened.
The Catalan interior department has reported that the majority of the passengers were university students on the Erasmus exchange program.
The Catalan interior chief, Jordi Jané, reported that there were no fears for the lives of the 43 injured.
The accident took place at 6am at kilometre 323 on the AP-7.
Jané gave an account of the incident:“The bus was moving toward the right, and when it brushed against the railing it swerved with such force that it crossed the median and ended up in the opposite carriageway.” At that point the coach collided with a car that was carrying two passengers.
The site of the crash is the only one with a slight curve on this highway, which is mostly made up of long straights.
“It’s a dark spot,” explained the mayor of Freginals, Josep Roncero.
However, Jané has ruled out that the state of the road had anything to do with the accident, and explained that early reports suggested human error. “We will see what the investigation turns up, but the cause looks related to human factors.”
The bus driver was taken to the regional police station in Tortosa. His injuries are not serious, according to Catalan interior department sources.
At least 43 other passengers were injured, and four of them are in very serious condition. Most victims are being treated at the Verge de la Cinta de Tortosa hospital in Tarragona. Passengers with only minor injuries, of whom there are 13, are at a hotel in Tortosa that is being used by regional authorities to attend to the families of the victims.
The bus was part of a group of five vehicles that were returning from Valencia. The coach was the last in the convoy; the other four drivers continued with their journey and only found out about the accident once they had reached their destination.
The Spanish Red Cross has provided several telephone numbers for families: 012 from Catalonia, and 900 400 012 from other regions of Spain.
English version by Simon Hunter.