Bus crash in Spain leaves 9 Finnish tourists dead

Saturday, April 19, 2008

A bus accident near the Spanish coastal resort town of Benalmádena has killed nine passengers and injured 35, all of whom were Finnish, police said Saturday night.

The bus collided with a sport utility vehicle on a highway along the Spanish coast, causing the bus to veer off the road and overturn. The driver of the SUV had survived, and is being detained on suspicion of drink driving, Spanish newspaper Sur claiming a breathalyser test revealed twice the legal blood alcohol limit. Police say the SUV driver was attempting to illegally pass another vehicle.

"There were 44 people on the bus, and it seems they were all Finnish," said a spokesman for the Civil Guard. He also reported that six of the injured were in serious condition. A police spokeswoman added that the death toll could rise as rescue workers continue to search for victims.

The tourists were being driven to Málaga Airport on a return trip to Finland when the crash occurred between Benalmadena and Torremolinos. The eastbound lanes of the AP-7 highway where the collision occurred have been closed, Spanish media reported.

A field hospital was set up at the site of the accident, which provided emergency first aid to the victims. The injured tourists were then taken to five different hospitals in the Costa del Sol region. The 11 tourists who emerged from the accident unscathed were taken to a hotel.

The bus accident is Spain's worst in more than seven years.