North Macedonia victims of bus crash in Bulgaria laid to rest

Hundreds of mourners gathered in a Macedonian village cemetery in a cold rain on Friday to lay to rest 10 local inhabitants including eight schoolchildren who were among 45 people killed in a bus crash in Bulgaria.

The bus, carrying tourists back to North Macedonia after a weekend trip to Istanbul, caught fire on a highway in the early hours of Nov. 23. All victims have been identified as ethnic Albanians from North Macedonia.

Human error was probably the main cause of the accident, Bulgarian investigators said.

North Macedonia’s authorities had planned a procession to honor the dead in the capital Skopje. But the event was canceled at the request of the victims’ families so that Muslims among the dead could be buried before Friday prayers in accordance with religious tradition.

The country’s top officials and religious leaders attended a brief ceremony at Skopje International Airport. The coffins, wrapped in clear plastic, were placed by military personnel into vehicles bound for burial sites.

Green coffins containing 10 victims were lowered into the ground at the Morane village cemetery – all four children of Enver Jahi, his wife, his sister-in-law and her two children, and two children of one of Jahi’s sisters – all from Morane.

Arlinda Vlashi, a teacher to Omer Jahi, 11, who was buried next to his three siblings and their mother, came to pay her respects. “How can I go to class now when I don’t see him?” she said tearfully.

“I was Omer’s new teacher when he started sixth grade (in September). He was a very nice boy, very wise, very polite and he was learning quickly.”

Enver Jahi, who did not go on the trip to Istanbul because he had to run the family restaurant, stood weeping in the rain as the caskets were buried, followed by an imam’s prayers.

“This was very bad news for us. Not only for me but for the entire village,” said Nuredin Bajrami, a neighbour of the Jahi family. “We knew them very well, they also had a restaurant and people visited them very often. They were very good people.”

The bodies of the other crash victims arrived in two Bulgarian military planes on Friday afternoon at the airport of North Macedonia’s capital Skopje. They were buried at various cemeteries across the Balkan country during the afternoon. / Argumentum.al