spain bus crash.jpg
Photograph: EPA/JAUME SELLART

At least 13 female students were killed when a packed tour bus overturned and crashed into another vehicle on a highway in north-eastern Spain, the Catalan government said Sunday.

The accident, which took place near the port city of Tarragona, also injured more than 40 people, Catalan Interior Minister Jordi Jane said at the accident site near Freginals.

There were 61 people on the bus, which was transporting international students participating in the EU's student exchange programme known as Erasmus back to Barcelona from a folk festival in Valencia.

Among the casualties were people from 19 different countries, the Catalan rescue services said. The bus was carrying students from a number of European countries, as well as Japan, the Palestinian Territories and New Zealand, among others.

Jane said later Sunday that forensic doctors would work through the night to identify the victims by using DNA from relatives.

"It's a sensitive issue," he said. "We will only release a list of the victims when all of the information has been confirmed with certainty."

The minister confirmed that all of the fatalities were women.

Twenty-three of the injured passengers remained in different hospitals late Sunday. Those who sustained light injuries are being questioned by the authorities. Jane was hopeful that they could help to identify the dead.

Broadcaster TV3 reported that the driver lost control of the bus. It then crashed through a median, overturned and collided with a vehicle in the opposite lane.

The excursion organizer chartered five buses back from the festival. The bus involved in the crash was the last of the five, TV3 reported.

The crash appeared to be due to human error by the driver, Jane said.

The driver of the bus survived the crash with minor injuries and tested negative for drugs and alcohol, judicial authorities in Barcelona said.

Related stories

Latest news

19-year-old men arrested for putting up anti-Serb stickers in Vukovar, minister condemns incident

Police have arrested a 19-year-old man, suspected of putting up anti-Serb stickers reading  "Serbian Family Tree" with an image of people hanging from a tree and the face of Ante Pavelic, Croatian fascist dictator who led the World War II Ustasha movement and the Independent State of Croatia (NDH), at bus stops along Trpinjska Street in the eastern Croatian town of Vukovar.

Britain faces highest terrorism threat since 1970s, official says

Britain faces its highest threat of terrorism since the 1970s, when the Irish Republican Army planned a series of bomb attacks, a legal official said on Sunday.

Monitor: Syrian regime forces killed in fighting near Lebanon border

Dozens of Syrian regime troops were killed and injured in an attack on Sunday by hardline jihadists led by an al-Qaeda-linked group near the Lebanese border, a monitor said.

Anarchist riots hit central Athens district

Clashes broke out between Greek police and self-styled anarchists in a central Athens neighbourhood early Sunday.

Thousands more affected by noise under Berlin flight route change

Thousands more residents in Berlin could be affected by aircraft noise due to changes in a flight route to a long-delayed new international airport.

Details emerge on Heidelberg car-ramming as police seek motive

The car used to ram into crowds in the south-western German town of Heidelberg was rented in Hamburg, police said Sunday, as they continued to search for a motive for the incident.

Fire at asylum seeker accommodation in Sweden

A fire overnight at an accommodation centre for asylum seekers in Sweden caused injuries to at least a dozen residents, police said on Sunday.

Analysts: Croatia's economy rises 3.3%, hitting new high since 2008

Croatia's economy expanded 3.3 per cent in the last quarter of 2016, compared to Q4 2015, according to projections of economic analysts polled by Hina, who ascribe this record high rise to increasing personal consumption, higher industrial output rates and growing investments.

Fate of German hostage in Philippines unknown as deadline passes

The fate of a 70-year-old German man held captive for three months in the southern Philippines was unknown after a deadline for a ransom to be paid passed Sunday, a military spokesman said.

Dengue fever risk growing in Thailand, authorities say

Dengue fever is posing a greater threat in Thailand, particularly in the southern region, the country's Disease Control Department said Sunday, as the number of people killed by the mosquito-borne disease this year stands at six.

Brexit fears plague locals and expats alike in southern Spain

As Britain's departure from the EU approaches, the anxiety is most palpable on Spain's Costa del Sol, where so many Britons live. What will happen to the economy if the expats one day have to leave?

'La La Land,' politics to share spotlight at Oscars

The Oscars will take the stage Sunday for an awards ceremony whose outcome feels like a foregone conclusion - a win, or 10, for "La La Land."