FREGINALS, Spain, March 20 (UPI) — More than a dozen foreign students were killed and at least 43 others were injured in northern Spain when their bus collided with a car about 6 a.m. near Freginals.
The accident occurred on the AP-7 highway, Sky News reported. All those killed were women between 22 and 29 years old, local officials reported.
The 13 dead were from Britain, Norway, Switzerland, Ukraine, Turkey and Barcelona. The students were part of the European Union’s student exchange program Erasmus.
The bus was carrying the university students back from Spain’s largest fireworks festival when the crash occurred, the Irish Times reported.
Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz confirmed the death toll. He said 28 passengers received medical treatment in area hospitals and others received first aid at the crash site.
The bus appeared to have hit the barriers on the right side of AP-7 before tumbling across the road and slamming in to the central fence, landing on its side, said Regional Government Spokesman Jordi Jane. There were 57 passengers on the bus.
Jane said the students had traveled to Valencia for the renowned Fallas fireworks festival and were returning when the bus crashed. He said most of the students were studying at two universities in Barcelona.
The Erasmus program provides foreign exchange courses for students from countries in the European Union, enabling them to attend many of the continent’s best universities.
Fernandez Diaz said the bus driver passed alcohol and drug tests, but was being held at the police station in the city of Tortosa.
Road conditions were good at the time of the crash, Jane said, and investigators are looking in to a possible cause for the accident.