Twelve Polish nationals have died and 30 others were injured when a bus bound for Zagreb veered off a motorway in northern Croatia.
The injured were taken to hospitals in the area and 18 were in a serious condition, said Maja Grba Bujević, head of Croatia’s emergency services.
Sixteen emergency medical teams were dispatched to the crash site.
The Polish consulate employee Dagmara Lukovic said the bus passengers were Polish. The bus was registered in Poland, according to the Croatian interior ministry.
The Polish prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, said the bus was taking pilgrims to the Catholic shrine in Medjugorje, a town in southern Bosnia.
The shrine is Europe’s third most popular pilgrimage destination after Lourdes and Fatima, although the Vatican has not verified any of the reported miracles that witnesses claimed to have seen there.
“This morning, I spoke about the details of the tragedy with the Croatian prime minister, Andrej Plenković, who assured the full support of Croatian medical services,” Morawiecki said on Facebook.
The Croatian interior minister, Davor Božinović, said the bus originated from “a place near Warsaw” and that “according to some information”, it was carrying pilgrims to Medjugorje.
The accident happened at 5.40am local time (3.40am GMT) about 50km (30 miles) north of Zagreb, on the A4 motorway, which is busy during the peak of the tourist season.
Rescue teams were sent to the location of the accident and an investigation was opened into what caused the accident, Croatian media reported.
Croatia has attracted millions of tourists this summer, with about 580,000 Polish tourists visiting between January and July.
In July last year, 10 tourists from Kosovo died in a bus crash on a highway in eastern Croatia.