Six people are dead and more than 20 injured after an explosion on a bus carrying Israeli tourists at the airport in Bulgaria’s Black Sea city of Bourgas, local authorities and media said on July 18 2012.
Initially announcing that three people were dead, Bulgaria’s Interior Ministry said that the identities of the dead and injured were not yet known. Subsequent reports said that one of the critically injured tourists had died in hospital in Bourgas. At about 8pm, Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov said that the number of dead was six.
Reports from the city said that the explosion took place next to the airport’s arrivals hall. At least two other vehicles were reported to be ablaze, unconfirmed reports said. The area was sealed off.
A number of fire engines and ambulances, along with police vehicles, were at the scene.
The explosion was reported to have taken place at 5.30pm. Israeli media reported Bourgas mayor Dimitar Nikolov as saying that there had been an explosive device in the luggage hold of the bus. The bus had been scheduled to go to the popular resort of Sunny Beach.
Burgas Airport information schedule said that an Air Via flight from Tel Aviv landed at the airport at 4.50pm.
Bourgas Hospital is reported to have admitted 27 injured people. Injuries were reported to be of varying degrees, from flying glass and metal fragments. Further injured people were reported to be arriving at the hospital. Of those already admitted, five were said to be in critical condition
According to local television station TV7, about 40 people were due to ride on the bus and, quoting eyewitnesses, the station said that at the time of the explosion, some already had boarded the bus and others were waiting outside.
Eyewitnesses were reported as describing the scene of the explosion as “horrific”.
In January 2012, there was controversy about media reports that Israeli authorities had cautioned Bulgaria about alleged plans for a terrorist attacks against Israeli tourists visiting the Balkan country’s winter resorts.
On July 18, Israeli media reported that the attack at Sarafovo Airport in Bourgas was believed to be a terrorist attack.
Bulgarian media said that it was believed that the tourist excursion had been organised by a Plovdiv-based firm.
The reported explosion took place at one of the Bulgarian seaside airport’s busiest times, given the summer season. The airport was said to have been crowded at the time of the blast.
Flights scheduled for Bourgas Airport were being diverted to the airport at Varna, Bulgaria’s largest Black Sea city. The Bourgas – Slunchev Bryag road also was reported to be closed.
Bulgaria’s President Rossen Plevneliev, Prime Minister Boiko Borissov, Interior Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov, Foreign Minister Nikolai Mladenov and Health Minister Desislava Atanasova were on their way to the city. Mladenov and his Israeli counterpart Avigdor Lieberman have spoken by phone.
TV7 said that Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Simeon Dyankov was at the scene. Plevneliev was expected to visit the injured in hospital.
Israeli ambassador Shaul Kamisa-Raz was also on his way to Bourgas.
A team of Israeli medics was to be sent to Bulgaria to assist in the treatment of the injured, Israeli media said. A team from Bulgaria’s Military Medical Academy headed by hospital chief Professor Stoyan Tonev also was reported to be on its way to Bourgas.
In Bulgaria’s capital city Sofia, mayor Yordanka Fandukova had asked the Interior Ministry to step up security at the Israeli embassy and at Jewish community centres and other places associated with the Jewish community, local news agency Focus said.
(Photo: Christian Rasmussen)