At least thirteen European university students, all of them women, have died in a motorway coach crash in North East Spain. British students were on board the coach but it is not yet known if they are among the dead or injured.
The coach, which was carrying erasmus students of nineteen nationalities, collided with another vehicle early on Sunday morning. Emergency services have confirmed that students from nineteen nations were on the coach; France, the Netherlands, Finland, Hungary, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, New Zealand, the UK, Italy, Peru, Bulgaria, Poland, Ireland, Palestine, Japan and Ukraine. However, the nationalities of the deceased have yet to be determined.
The Catalan interior minister, Jordi Jané, confirmed that the majority of victims “are Erasmus students of various nationalities”, aged between 22 and 29. Thirteen of the sixty-three victims have died, with a further thirty injured, with the death toll expected to rise.
Jané has said, “Everything points to human error being the cause of the accident, though it’s too early to say. There’s no reason to think there was a problem with the road itself.”
At around 6am the driver of the coach, who has tested negative for drugs or alcohol, lost control of the vehicle near Amposta, South of Tarragona. The coach crossed the central reservation of the motorway and collided with an oncoming car. Videos released by Spanish media show the front of the car smashed in, and the coach lying on its side. The driver of the coach has been employed by the company for seventeen years and has never had an accident in that time.
The newly elected president of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, has said identification of the deceased has been difficult as the coach was one of a group of five returning the students to Barcelona from a trip celebrating the Fallas celebration in Valencia. There were no passenger lists of who was on each coach, and many of the students were not carrying identification documents. Mr Puigdemont had called for two days of mourning in Catalonia.
The rector of the University of Barcelona, Dídac Ramírez, has attended the scene to aid with identification as he claims that it is likely many of the victims will have been students at his university, with one of four students involved in the trip attending.
The emergency hotline for those seeking information is +34 900400012 from abroad or 900400012 from within Spain.