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Germany

Thirteen killed as Polish coach crashes near Berlin

German police say at least 13 people have been killed and dozens injured after a bus carrying Polish tourists crashed on a motorway near Berlin. Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk visited the site and met with survivors.

Schoenefeld interchange

Around 300 emergency service workers rushed to the site

The bus carrying 47 passengers was forced off the road by a car leaving a motorway, killing 13 and leaving dozens injured. The bus reportedly crashed into a bridge support while the passenger car landed in a ditch.

The incident took place at at Schoenefelder Kreuz in the eastern state of Brandenburg, about 30 kilometers from Berlin.

Peter Salender, spokesperson for the Frankfurt an der Oder police said 19 people were seriously injured while 20 others were less badly hurt.

One of those in a critical condition was the driver of the car, a Mercedes, that collided with the bus. Polish media reports said the driver was a 37-year-old woman.

Polish leader visits site

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk arrived at the scene Sunday evening to visit survivors, having flown in on a special flight, a spokeswoman at the Polish embassy in Berlin told AFP.

Donald Tusk, right with Brandenburg's Premier Mathias Platzeck

Tusk visited the accident site and met with survivors

The bus, operated by coach company Pol-Bus, was carrying 47 passengers and two drivers, the spokeswoman said. All the victims are Polish, the embassy added.

The bus was returning to Poland from a holiday tour of Spain.

Rescue helicopters and 300 firemen, police and rescue workers were at the scene, according to Salender.

Merkel offers condolences

German Chancelor Angela Merkel offered Tusk her condolences and promised that Germany would do everything it could to save the lives of the injured, a statement issued on the government's website said.

Berlin's mayor Klaus Wowereit also expressed sorrow over the accident.

The bus wreck after the crash

The bus reportedly rammed into a bridge support after coming off the motorway

"We commemorate the dead and empathize with their families," he said at a meeting of his Social Democrat Party in Berlin.

Persistent rain meant driving conditions were poor at the time, Salender said. An investigation into what caused the accident has been opened. Prosecutors in Szczecin in northwest Poland said that they would also launch their own probe.

Author: David Levitz (dpa/AP/AFP/Reuters)

Editor: Sonia Phalnikar

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