Dozens of victims in bus carrying North Macedonian tourists in Bulgaria; Albania extends deep condolences

At least 46 people, including 12 children, died when a bus crashed and caught fire in western Bulgaria, officials say.

The victims have not yet been officially named, but officials said they included children, and young people aged between 20 and 30.

Macedonian TV channel Alsat released a list of names it said were passengers on the bus. Comments by Albania's foreign minister indicate that most, if not all, the passengers were ethnic-Albanians from North Macedonia.

Earlier, Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said he had spoken to one of the survivors, who told him that passengers were asleep when the sound of an explosion woke them.

"He and the other six survivors broke the windows of the bus and managed to escape and save themselves," Mr Zaev told reporters.

The bus belonged to Besa Trans, a travel company that organises trips in Europe.

Within hours of the crash, relatives of people who travelled to Turkey with Besa Trans last week gathered outside the firm's office in Skopje, anxiously looking for information.

Xhelal Bakiu told reporters in the Macedonian capital he was concerned for his nephew and had not heard from him since learning of the crash. He tried to contact the travel agency but had not been able to get any information.

Bulgaria's interim Prime Minister Stefan Yanev described the incident as "an enormous tragedy/ Argumentum.al