At least 13 international students have died and dozens were injured after a bus careened off the road in northeastern Spain. Investigators are still seeking the cause of the crash.
Authorities in Spain say the crash occurred just before 6 a.m. (0500 UTC) Sunday near the town of Freginals, 150 kilometers (95 miles) south of Barcelona as the students were returning from the Fallas festival in eastern Valencia.
The bus driver "hit the railing on the right and swerved to the left so violently that the bus veered onto the other side of the highway," said Jordi Jane, a Catalonia interior official.
The bus was carrying students aged between 20 and 32 attending universities in Barcelona, many taking part in the Erasmus European exchange program.
Crash under investigation
Local officials say accidents have occurred frequently in that section of highway.
"I don't know why, the highway looks fine and it's a straight line," Jose Roncero Pallares, the mayor of Freginals, told the AFP news agency. "It rained a lot that night and maybe that played a role."
The driver also passed drug and alcohol tests, authorities said.
Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy tweeted his sympathies on Sunday morning.
"My condolences to the families of the victims and I wish rapid recovery to the injured," he wrote.
The regional government of Catalonia said in a statement in the early evening that "according to the latest data, the ill-fated bus had students from Hungary, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, Czech Republic, United Kingdom, Italy, Peru, Bulgaria, Poland, Ireland, Japan, Ukraine, Holland, Belgium, France, Palestine, Turkey and Greece."
It added that two countries - New Zealand and Finland - were still to confirm if their nationals were involved.
The Erasmus program provides foreign exchange courses for students from throughout Europe, enabling them to attend many of the continent's best universities.
jar/cmk (AP, AFP)