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At least 45 people have died and seven more have been injured after a bus caught fire following a crash in the early hours of this morning.

Senior officials from Bulgaria's interior ministry have confirmed that children were among those killed.

Nikolai Nikolov, the head of the fire safety department at the interior ministry, also confirmed that seven living victims with serious burns were rushed to a hospital in Sofia, Bulgaria's capital.

He told BTV television: "At least 45 people were killed after a bus caught fire and crashed, or crashed and then caught fire."

It has been reported that at least 12 of the victims were children.

The accident occurred at around 2am today (November 23) local time, close to the city of Pernik, after the bus collided with a roadside barrier.

The bus itself had number plates from neighbouring North Macedonia and an official from the North Macedonia embassy in Sofia confirming that most of the victims were from the country.

Of the seven who survived, six were adults and one was a 17-year-old girl. Six are being treated for burns and one for a leg injury.

The hospital has confirmed that they are not in life-threatening conditions.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Stefan Yanev has been in dialogue with Zoran Zaev, his North Macedonian counterpart.

Zaev also confirmed that children were among the victims.

He added: "The causes of the incident are being investigated. We do not know if all the passengers are our citizens, but we suspect so, as the bus has a Macedonian registration."

It is thought that the bus had departed from Istanbul, Turkey, and entered Bulgaria at 9pm yesterday.

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