North Macedonia mourns 14 people killed in bus crash
Published Thu Feb 14 2019 15:40:07 GMT+0000 (UTC)
by By KONSTANTIN TESTORIDES
SKOPJE, North Macedonia (AP) — North Macedonia observed the first of two days of national mourning Thursday after a bus drove an embankment and overturned, a crash that killed 14 people and left 30 others injured.
The bus was carrying mostly students and office workers from Skopje to the western city of Gostivar on Wednesday night when it went down the 5-meter (16-foot) embankment and rolled into a field 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) west of the capital.
Witnesses said several people were thrown out of the bus and passengers' belongings were strewn at the accident scene. Excavators formed a circle around the wrecked bus to provide light while rescuers pulled survivors from the vehicle.
Health Minister Venko Filipchev visited a hospital where most of the injured passengers were taken and said seven were in critical condition.
Declaring the two days of mourning, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and President Gjorge Ivanov attended a memorial service for the victims in Gostivar, where most of them were from.
The accident happened the day after the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia officially changed its name to North Macedonia as part of an agreement to end a decades-old dispute with Greece. In return for the name change, Greece lifted its objections to its small northern neighbor joining NATO.
The Greek Foreign Ministry said it was "deeply saddened by tragic road accident."
The deal also could enable North Macedonia to become a European Union member. The EUc commissioner who oversees negotiations with potential members, wrote on Twitter: "Deeply saddened by last night's tragic accident in North Macedonia."