Spain bus crash: 13 dead, two Irish among dozens injured

Coach carrying Erasmus students crashed and overturned on a motorway halfway between Valencia and Barcelona

At least 13 people have died after a bus carrying Spanish and foreign students crashed on a highway in Tarragona on Spain's northeastern coast. Video: Reuters

 

Three Irish students on board a bus that crashed in Spain on Sunday, claiming the lives of 13 people, escaped largely without injury.

Ambassador of Ireland to Spain David Cooney said two of the students were brought to hospital but were later discharged. A third student did not require hospital treatment.

All three were students at University College Cork, and a college spokeswoman last night confirmed none were seriously injured. She added that UCC’s international studies department was liaising with the students and their families following the incident.

Some 30 students were injured when the bus carrying them to Barcelona from the Las Fallas fireworks festival in Valencia crashed on a main highway in the north-east of the country.

Mr Cooney has said his office has been in contact with the families of the Irish students involved.

“The embassy is trying to establish the facts of the situation,” Mr Cooney told The Irish Times. “We have two young Irish people who have received injuries which don’t appear to be life-threatening.“The details of those who have lost their lives have not been released yet so we’re not in a position to say that is the limit of the Irish involvement at this point. We’re waiting on the authorities to pass on that information.”

He said the bus involved was one of five buses ferrying students back to Barcelona.

“This bus was one of five buses that were on this particular trip so give the nature of the situation you couldn’t be sure of who was on what bus,” he said. “We don’t have anything definitive.

“They were by and large Erasmus students. It’s not clear that they were all Erasmus students. I wouldn’t be surprised if some Spanish students were also involved.

“These were trips that were put together for students at the university, which would have involved some Erasmus students, but I would be very surprised if they were exclusively Erasmus students. I’ve no firm information on that.

“This is obviously a very tragic incident,” he added.

Erasmus network

The trip was organised by the Erasmus Student Network Barcelona UB which has released a statement expressing condolences with the victims.

“ESN Barcelona, consisting of ESN Barcelona UB, ESN Barcelona UPF, ESN UPC Barcelona and UAB Barcelona, issues this statement due to the tragic accident that occurred this morning, involving one of our buses of the trip to Las Fallas de Valencia organized by ESN Barcelona,” it read.

“There were 57 students in this bus. At the moment and according to official sources, 13 international students have lost their lives.

“For the moment we know that 13 people are slightly injured and around 30 are hospitalized in several hospitals of Amposta, Reus and Tarragona.

“ESN Barcelona would like to convey our condolences and join the pain of the families, friends and relatives of the victims. We feel the deep loss.

“In the same way we would like to express our sincere willingness to be as helpful as possible with the family, friends or institutions.

“For more information please contact this email: trips@esnbarcelona.org or this number: +34 900400012.”

Initially, regional government spokesman Jordi Jane said 14 people had died in the crash but Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz later confirmed the death toll was 13.

He said 28 passengers received medical treatment in local hospitals and others received first aid at the crash site.

A spokeswoman for University College Cork has confirmed that three of its students were involved in the crash but none were seriously injured.

Two of the students were completely uninjured in the collision. A third student suffered minor injuries, but has already been discharged from a Spanish hospital following treatment.

The bus, which was carrying 57 passengers, appeared to have hit the right-hand side barriers of the AP7 highway before cartwheeling across the road and slamming into the central fence, landing on its side, said Mr Jane, spokesman for Spain’s north-eastern Catalonia province.

Television images from state broadcaster TVE showed the bus also crashed into an oncoming car on the opposite side of the highway.

The bus driver was being held at a police station in the city of Tortosa, Mr Jane said. Road conditions were good at the time of the crash and investigators were looking into the cause of the accident, he said.

Fernandez Diaz said the driver passed alcohol and drug tests he was given.

Mr Jane said emergency rescue workers were working to clear the wreckage that had closed the major highway linking Spain with France along the Mediterranean coast in both directions. The crash took place near Freginals, halfway between Valencia and Barcelona.

Additional reporting: PA