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Two Germans among 13 dead in Spanish bus crash, local official says

Catalan Interior Minister Jordi Jane has confirmed that two Germans were among the victims in a deadly bus crash in northeastern Spain. Investigations into the cause of the crash are underway.

Authorities in Spain say the crash occurred just before 6 a.m. local time (0500 UTC) on Sunday near the town of Freginals, 150 kilometers (95 miles) south of Barcelona. The students were returning from the Fallas festival in eastern Valencia. According to Catalonia's interior minister, "some of them were not wearing seat belts."

On Monday, Jane identified the 13 young female students killed as seven Italians, two Germans, and one woman each from Romania, France, Austria and Uzbekistan.

The victims, from about 20 countries, were aged between 19 and 25. Dozens of passengers, including two other Germans, also suffered injuries when the driver lost control of the bus and crashed into an oncoming car.

Erasmus students

The vehicle "hit the railing on the right and swerved to the left so violently that the bus veered onto the other side of the highway," Jane said.

Germany's Foreign Ministry declined to confirm the number of German casualties, saying only that it "cannot rule out" the that some of its nationals were among those killed.

Many of the passengers were attending universities in Barcelona, where they were taking part in the Erasmus program, which provides foreign exchange courses for students across Europe.

Investigation underway

The driver, who passed drug and alcohol tests, was questioned by police Sunday and is now being treated in intensive care for chest injuries. He was due to appear before a judge on Monday, but the hearing has been postponed, a legal source told AFP news agency.

Local officials say accidents have frequently occurred 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, said. "It rained a lot that night and maybe that played a role."

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