All emergency services are at the scene, the injured are being taken care off

Twelve people were killed and 31 injured in a bus crash which occurred at 5.35 am on Saturday on the A4 highway between Jarek Bisaški and Podvorec, in Varaždin County, when a bus with Polish licence plates skidded off the road, Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović said at a news conference.

Speaking at a news conference in Varaždin, Božinović said that the 112 emergency service received the first report of the accident from a Polish national who was on the bus.

"All emergency services, 16 emergency medical teams, followed by police, firefighters and HAC road operator staff, were immediately dispatched to the scene," the minister said.

Eleven people were killed on the spot while 32 injured passengers were transported to hospitals in Varaždin, Zagreb and Čakovec.

"Unfortunately, one of them has died in the meantime, so the current death toll stands at 12," Božinović said.

He added that according to available information, the crash victims were pilgrims travelling to the Marian shrine of Međugorje, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Croatian Emergency Medicine Institute head Maja Grba-Bujević said that the emergency medical service was contacted at 5.35 am, that the first team was at the site of the accident at 5.48 am and that the operation was completed at 7.55 am.

During that short period of time, 18 casualties, all with serious injuries, were taken to three hospitals in Zagreb, she said.

Polish Consul Dagmara Luković, who also attended the news conference in Varaždin, thanked the Croatian services for their prompt and efficient response and assistance to the crash victims, noting that the consulate would be in close contact with them and help them provide care for the victims and get in touch with their families.

Before the latest accident, three other road accidents involving buses with foreign nationals and a large number of casualties happened on Croatian highways.

On 7 September 2008, 14 people were killed and 22 injured in an accident on the A1 motorway near Gospić involving a bus with Slovak licence plates; on 23 June 2012 8 people were killed and 44 injured when a bus with Czech licence plates skidded off the A1 motorway and overturned; and on 25 July 2021 10 people were killed and several dozen injured when a bus with Kosovo licence plates skidded off the motorway near Slavonski Brod.

Beroš visits Polish bus crash victims in Varaždin hospital

Beroš said that the first ambulance arrived at the scene of the accident within 13 minutes of the call and was soon joined by 16 emergency medical teams. He added that 19 passengers were seriously injured and 13 lightly.

Eleven people have been hospitalised in Varaždin, of whom five have been admitted to intensive care, the health minister said, adding that another two passengers have been admitted to the County Hospital in nearby Čakovec.

Speaking of the condition of the injured passengers who have been transferred to Zagreb, Beroš said that six are being treated at KBC Rebro. "Unfortunately, one person has died during treatment, and a woman is being operated on for multiple injuries. She is in life-threatening condition." 

Eight patients are being treated at Draškovićeva Street Hospital and KBC Sestre Milosrdnice. Four of them are in intensive care and two are undergoing surgery, he added.

"Six persons are being treated at KBC Dubrava, two men and four women. Unfortunately, they are in serious condition and two operations are under way," Beroš said.

He added that Polish Consul Dagmara Luković had visited the injured passengers in Varaždin, and that a helpdesk had been set up for Poles seeking information on the condition of their loved ones.

Beroš also visited the Čakovec hospital and was due to visit the Zagreb hospitals together with the Polish health minister, who is expected to arrive in the afternoon.

The accident occurred at 5.35 am on Saturday when the bus skidded off the A4 motorway. It was en route to the Marian shrine of Međugorje, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Eleven people were killed on site, one died in hospital in Zagreb and 32 were injured.