Authorities in Germany say 30 people are injured and 18 people are believed to be dead after a bus collided with a truck and ignited in flames Monday morning.
The tour bus had two drivers and was transporting a group of 46 elderly citizens from the state of Saxony in eastern Germany, according to the Associated Press.
The bus hit the trailer truck along the A9 highway in the southeast German state of Bavaria around 7 a.m. local time.
The driver of the truck, which was carrying mattresses and pillows, is reportedly unharmed, the BBC says.
Germany’s federal police deployed forensic specialists to the scene to extract and identify bodies from the bus, which was burnt to its steel frame, according to local police. With such extensive destruction, “the investigation of the accident is very complex and time-consuming,” police spokeswoman Irene Brandenstein told the AP.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed “great dismay” in a statement from her spokesman on Monday, according to AFP. The statement continued: “Our thoughts and condolences go to the victims and their family members, as well as to the injured. We hope that those who have been rescued will recover from their injuries.”
Local media reported that the tour group was using the A9 highway, a major north-south thoroughfare, en route from Saxony to Lake Garda in Italy, according to the New York Times.
The Times also reports that German highways typically see an increase in both tourist traffic and required road construction in the summer months, which increases the chances of accidents.