North Macedonia Declares Mourning Over Bus Tragedy

North Macedonia has declared two days of national mourning for the 14 passengers who perished when a bus veered off the highway into a ditch near the capital, Skopje.

People stand around the wreckage of the capsized bus on the Skopje-Tetovo highway. Photo: EPA-EFE/FROSINA NASKOVIC

North Macedonia has declared two days of national mourning for the 14 people who lost their lives in a tragic bus accident on Wednesday.

At an extraordinary session held on Wednesday night, the government declared Thursday and Friday days of national mourning for the victims of the crash, which happened when a bus veered off the highway at Karpalak, near Skopje, into a ditch.

The death toll has since risen to 14. Most were residents of the north-western town of Gostivar who were traveling home from the capital, Skopje.

Six more of the 30 hospitalized people remain in a critical condition and are fighting for their lives, the Health Ministry said.

The town of Gostivar, where many of the victims came from, has meanwhile declared three days of morning.

“I have no words that could offer enough solace for the families of our fellow citizens who tragically lost their lives… We offer sympathy for the families and for their loss,” Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said on Wednesday night.

Notes of condolences also arrived from neighboring countries.

“Deeply saddened by the tragic road accident on the Skopje-Tetovo highway,” the Greek Foreign Ministry wrote on Twitter.

Extending his condolences, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama wished the survivors a speedy recovery.

Authorities are still investigating what caused the tragedy, the like of which the country has not seen in years.

Police say the bus driver survived and that they have already held preliminary talks with him.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic