Technical Malfunction or Driver Error – the Main Versions of the Tragedy on "Struma"
A sudden malfunction or driver error are the two leading versions of the investigators of the severe accident. It is clear from the inspection that the bus first deviated and hit the right side of the road and an explosion was heard.
What we know so far: 4 buses with Macedonian registration have entered our country through "Kapitan Andreevo" border checkpoint. They traveled to Skopje. Three of the buses were 15-20 minutes ahead of the bus that crashed.
About a kilometer after the turn near the village of Bosnek, when descending, the bus first goes sharply to the right, hits the right guardrail, deviates sharply to the left, hits the dividing guardrail. An explosion is heard, the bus catches fire.
It is not yet possible to say what caused the crash.
Investigators are working on two main versions - a sudden technical malfunction of the bus, which includes the possibility of a flat front right tire or a mistake of the driver, who may have felt sick or fallen asleep. It is noticeable that there is no braking distance.
The bus was mostly used by young people who lived abroad and returned to the Republic of North Macedonia after a long weekend. This is what the tour guide Denis Khalidov, who met with the group on Sunday in Istanbul, told media. The company that owns the bus is one of the largest tour operators in our southwestern neighbor, he added.
"They have good buses, so I think it should have beem technically sound. But it's one thing to observe it, it's another to pass a technical inspection. It's very possible, I think, that the driver fell asleep, because it was 2 AM. And the tour guide should always to be awake, for such reasons. The drivers were probably middle-aged," Khalidov said.
Shortly after the accident on the Struma Highway, Vasko Pirgov from the District Administration in Pernik came to the scene and has his own version of what happened:
"There is a branching of the road, a fountain with a sign that mentions it. He went in there and the front right tire burst from the sign, the bus was still dragging, there was a fuel spill. And because the bus heating worked and it comes from there the accident that started the fire," Pirgov said.
It was established that the bus had two drivers, but it is assumed that neither of them survived. There was an explosion, but the reason for it is not yet clear. This was announced by the National Investigation Service, where they took over the investigation of the case. Together with representatives of the prosecutor's office in the Republic of North Macedonia, the head of the service Borislav Sarafov came to the scene.
"The question is what caused this explosion. Whether it was an explosion on the bus or an explosion caused by a blow to the guardrail. Again, we come to the basic versions - whether it is a technical malfunction or a human error.
And the other three buses, how far forward were they on the road?
They were on the same carrier company, but they were moving at a distance of 15-20 minutes from each other, they were not a compact convoy," Sarafov said.
Vilma Ruskovska, head of the RNM specialized prosecutor's office, said: The owner of the carrier is also on the scene. I talked to him for a while. He said that he has had a transport company for 20 years, so far he has had no accidents. But we will seize the documentation for all buses - when they are registered, when they were under technical inspection and we will send them to the Bulgarian colleagues.
The Prosecutor General of the Republic of North Macedonia and the spokesman of the Bulgarian Prosecutor General spoke with the passengers injured in the accident, accommodated in Pirogov Hospital.
"We talked to all the victims. They are in contact and all are out of danger for life," said Lubomir Yovevski, RNM's chief prosecutor.
"The only thing they say is that everything happened in seconds," said Siika Mileva, a spokeswoman for the chief prosecutor.
Investigators also asked their Macedonian colleagues for biological material from relatives of those traveling on the bus so that the victims could be identified. Witnesses to the incident are also being questioned.
Investigators from both sides - the RNM Prosecutor General and Borislav Sarafov - have agreed that the Bulgarian side will receive all the documentation for the bus as soon as possible.
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