Budapest, January 21 (MTI) – Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has declared Monday a national day of mourning for those Hungarians who died in a bus accident in Italy overnight Friday, the head of the PM’s press office told MTI on Saturday.
Sixteen Hungarians were killed when a bus transporting students and teachers of the Szinyei Merse Pál Secondary School in Budapest, as well as family members, hit the pillar of an overpass on the Venice-Verona motorway and caught fire just before midnight. The group was returning from a ski trip.
Orbán earlier said his prayers were with the families and friends of those hit by the tragedy and President János Áder expressed his condolences.
Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni expressed his sympathy to all Hungarians in a telephone call to Orbán and assured him that the Italian ambulance services and health institutions were making every effort to provide the best possible service to the injured Hungarians, Orbán’s press chief said. Orbán expressed his thanks for the information and for the Italian authorities’ work and asked his counterpart to foster cooperation between the Italian and Hungarian authorities in order to clarify the circumstances of the accident and transport the victims and the injured to Hungary, Bertalan Havasi said.Szinyei Merse Pál Secondary School in Budapes, photo: János
Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó told a press conference early Saturday that the accident left one person with life-threatening injuries, two people with very serious injuries, ten with serious injuries and 13 with light injuries. Twelve people were unhurt in the accident.
He expressed condolences on behalf of the Hungarian government and said the government would cover all expenses for parents travelling to Italy and for transporting those involved back home.
Hungary’s National Ambulance Service departed from Budapest for Verona on Saturday with one airplane and four ambulances to return the injured to Hungary, communications director Pál Győrfi said.
An investigation is under way to determine the cause of the accident.
No other vehicles were involved in the crash, and it was not clear why the bus hit the overpass support column on the road near Verona just before midnight, said police commander Girolamo Lacquaniti. Of the 39 survivors, 26 were injured, some seriously. Sixteen badly burned bodies were pulled from the wreckage, police commander said.Relatives arrived in Verona, photo: MTI/György Varga
Investigators have found no brake marks at the scene, Lacquaniti said.
The Italian state radio RAI said a Slovenian lorry driver who was travelling behind the bus had noticed a problem with one of the bus wheels and tried to alert the driver. But the bus driver didn’t react quickly enough.
The Hungarian police said they had sent a team of three experts to support the investigation of the accident at the request of the Italian authorities.
Human Resources Minister Zoltán Balog, joined by a number of other government officials, lit a candle in front of the Szinyei Merse Pál Secondary School late in the afternoon. “This loss is shared,” he said.
Cardinal Péter Erdő, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, urged priests to remember the victims of the accident at masses on Sunday.Victims with light injuries (Verona, Italy)
An escort teacher’s two sons also died in the fiery crash but the teacher with serious injuries survived the accident reported the Hungarian media.
Most of the survivors sat at the back of the vehicle; after the collision, they broke the windows to get out of the burning bus.