Fatal bus crash: gov’t declares national day of mourning

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The Hungarian government has declared a national day of mourning today in memory of the victims of the fatal crash in Italy in which 16 people were killed and dozens injured, when a bus carrying students from Hungary hit a pillar and burst into flames on a motorway near Verona at about 11 pm Friday.

(Photo: Gergely Botár/kormany.hu)

Hungary’s flag was hoisted at eight o’clock this morning and then lowered to half-mast on Kossuth tér in Budapest in the presence of President of the Republic János Áder and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, said Bertalan Havasi, head of the Prime Ministerʼs Press Office. In schools across the country, instructions have been issued that a commemoration must be held within the framework of a normal class or a special student event, according to official government website kormany.hu. Many schools are flying black flags as a mark of respect.

“Losing young lives, our children, is always the hardest blow for every family, community and nation,” Orbán said in a statement on Saturday. He noted that Hungarian authorities have been instructed to do everything they possibly can in order to fully clarify the situation. “In the incomprehensible moments of grief, my prayers are with the families and friends affected by this tragedy,” Orbán’s statement added.

Sixteen people died and as many as 40 were injured after a Hungarian coach, carrying mostly teenagers, crashed and caught fire on the motorway near Verona, in northern Italy, in the late hours of Friday night/Saturday morning. The coach was returning from an annual school ski trip to the French mountains, carrying students, staff and parents from Szinyei Merse Pál Secondary School in Budapest. One person remains in a critical condition and is being kept in an artificially induced coma, two people are severely injured, and ten more have serious injuries, the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs says.

Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni reportedly expressed his condolences to Orbán and the country in a phone call. Gentiloni informed his Hungarian counterpart of all the circumstances related to the accident thus far known, and assured him that the Italian ambulance service and health care institutions are doing everything they can to provide the best possible care for the injured Hungarians, kormany.hu reported.

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