Current Affairs Eight Czechs killed in bus crash in Croatia
For 51 Czech passengers aboard a bus chartered by the Brno travel agency Atlas Adria, a summer holiday turned into a nightmare on Saturday. En route to the popular Croatian holiday destination Makarska Riviera, the bus swerved off the road and overturned. Eight passengers were killed in the accident and more than 40 injured. Some have since returned to the Czech Republic via military aircraft.
It happened around 4 a.m. on Saturday: A charter bus with 51 Czech tourists on board swerved off the right lane of the A1 road near the Krpani tunnel, some 200 kilometers south of Zagreb. The vehicle first left the lane, and then hit a crash barrier and a toll bridge before overturning. For eight passengers, the crash proved fatal; 43 were injured. Many of the accident survivors say they are traumatized. One of them described what he remembers of the crash to Czech Radio’s Martin Dorazín.
“I was sleeping when the accident happened. But the noise and the impact woke me up, and I could tell the bus was turning over. I heard glass shattering, and crashed into the seat, it was a horrible sound. There was glass everywhere and I could hear the people around me shouting because they were stuck under their seats.”
It is likely that the cause of the crash was that the driver, with some 25 years of experience driving charter busses, had a microsleep episode. He is among the eight victims, as well as a seven-year-old child. However, the victims’ identities have not yet been officially confirmed by Czech authorities.
A special military transport brought most of the injured passengers back to the Czech Republic on Sunday. Tomáš Dub, deputy of the Foreign Minister, explains the logistics of the transport.
“We have brought 24 patients back to the Czech Republic. One of them is injured severely and is being treated at the Military University Hospital in Prague, along with three others who were not as severely injured. At the Brno military hospital, 16 patients who suffered light injuries and four patients who were badly hurt are being treated. The plane stopped in Zadar first, and then in Zagreb, where we rescued a severely injured 60-year-old woman.”
Seven Czech patients remain in Croatia, among them a pair of twin girls who are being treated at hospital in Zagreb. Doctors say their condition has been improving. Five passengers were hospitalized in the town of Gospič, near the site of the accident. One of them was released from hospital on Monday. Another military transport may bring the Czech patients who have stayed behind for treatment in Croatia home later this week.
Special help lines for the accident victims and their relatives have been opened by the interior and foreign ministries. Both Prime Minister Petr Nečas and Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg have expressed their condolences and vowed that the Czech authorities will do everything in their power to assist the relatives of the victims and those injured in the crash.