Foreign students dead in Spain bus crash

  • 21/03/2016
The wreckage of the bus is lifted by a crane in Freginals, Spain (Reuters)
The wreckage of the bus is lifted by a crane in Freginals, Spain (Reuters)

Thirteen people have died and more than 30 people are injured after a bus crash in Spain.

It's believed one New Zealander was on the coach which hit a railing, flipped and hit an oncoming car.

However it is now understood no Kiwis have been reported to have injuries, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT).

"The New Zealand Embassy in Madrid has been in contact with the relevant Spanish authorities to confirm details about the crash," a spokesperson for MFAT said.

"Despite an earlier report from Spanish authorities, the Embassy has since been advised that no New Zealand citizens have been reported injured.

"The Embassy is continuing to liaise with Spanish authorities."

Most of the passengers were students in their 20s, with the victims believed to be from Britain, Ireland, Palestine, Peru, Finland and New Zealand.

The Catalonian president has confirmed all those who died are female and has announced two days of mourning.

The bus crashed and overturned between the Spanish cities of Valencia and Barcelona early on Sunday.

Among the 61 passengers were students from at least 19 countries, most of them in Europe, but New Zealand and Japanese students were also reported to be aboard.

Eight of the passengers were seriously injured, authorities say.

The New Zealand Embassy's consular duty officer in Madrid, Raul Baigorri, said staff had been in contact with Spanish police since Sunday morning.

"We have not received any indication yet of New Zealanders being among the injured," he had said at the time.

"The identification process is often slow, the police said they will provide more information."

Mr Baigorri said the latest information from Catalan emergency authorities was they could not confirm if New Zealanders were even aboard the bus.

He said the consular division in Wellington was liaising with families of potentially affected New Zealanders.

Many of the students were part of the Erasmus exchange program between European universities

The bus had come from Valencia on the last weekend of the Fallas festival, known for its big firework displays.

"There were students on board, many of them foreign students studying in Catalonia and in Barcelona who had travelled to Valencia for the Fallas and were returning," Jordi Jane, Catalonia's regional interior minister said at a televised news conference.

The driver had been taken to a local police station, Jane said. The cause of the accident was not immediately clear but was most likely due to "human error", he said.

The driver had tested negative for alcohol and drugs, a Catalan court said in a statement.

Catalonia's emergency services said passengers on board included students from New Zealand, Hungary, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Britain, Italy, Peru, Bulgaria, Poland, Ireland, the Palestinian Territories, Japan, Ukraine, Holland, France and Finland.

Catalonia's regional interior minister Jordi Jane said the victims were all aged between 22 and 29.

Catalan emergency authorities have set up a free hotline for families to ring: +44 900 400 012.

Reuters / Newshub.