21 Jan

Sixteen people died in the coach accident which occurred in the vicinity of Verona, in Italy, just before midnight, one person in a critical condition is being kept in an artificially induced coma, two persons are severely injured, ten persons have serious injuries, while thirteen have light injuries. Twelve people survived the accident without injuries, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó told the press.

He indicated: the list of the uninjured is now more or less complete, while the list of those treated in hospital is also „more or less final”.

Upon expressing his condolences and sympathy on behalf of the Hungarian Government, Mr Szijjártó said that he had informed the head of state and the Prime Minister of the accident. The Government will cover all the costs of getting the victims of the accident back home and helping parents visit their children, and will make every effort to alleviate the pain of the families, he said.

The head of Hungarian diplomacy told the press: at this point in time, there is no information as to what caused the accident, but the Italian police did not find any skid marks. There is also contrary information on the number of passengers on board the bus which first hit the motorway barrier on the section between Venice and Verona, and finally crashed into the pillar of a flyover. Following this, an extremely fast spreading, fierce fire broke out in the front section of the bus which created suffocating smoke, he added.

He also said that the Hungarian Consul General to Milan and a colleague arrived in Verona, where the injured are being treated in three hospitals, in the early hours of the morning. Thanks to the assistance of the Mayor of Verona, the others were taken to a hotel in the southern part of the city, and a psychologist has already been appointed to help them to process the trauma, he added.

There are already four Hungarian diplomats on site, while two highly experienced consuls have set out from Budapest: one of them has experience regarding Italy, while the other one attended to similar crisis situations in the past. The consul to Rome has also been directed to the site, and the Minister of State of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade will arrive in Verona on Sunday. The particularly hard part of their job will begin on Sunday: the identification of the bodies and the issuance of the death certificates, Mr Szijjártó informed the press.

Parents may also enquire about the state of their children at the duty number of the Consulate General in Milan, he added.

The Foreign Minister also said that he had spoken to the principal of the Budapest secondary school whose students were involved in the accident, but he did not name the institution in question. (According to press reports, the participants of the ski trip of the Szinyei Merse Pál Secondary School were the victims of the accident, which is also supported by the fact that a black flag of mourning was displayed on Saturday on the building of the secondary school located in the 6th district.)

Mr Szijjártó said: the Director General and a senior physician of the National Ambulance Service are also on their way, while he likewise consulted with the Director General of the Heim Pál Paediatric Hospital, and the institution is ready to receive the injured upon their return to Hungary.

He further mentioned that the Prime Minister of Italy expressed his condolences via the Hungarian representation in Rome, and so did the Foreign Minister.

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