Sofia, Bulgaria – At least 45 people were killed in a bus accident in western Bulgaria early Tuesday.

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Officials said the registered bus in North Macedonia crashed around 2 a.m. and children were among the victims. Seven people were taken to hospitals for treatment.

The cause of the accident was not immediately clear. Officials said investigation would be initiated.

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Bulgarian news agency Novinite said representatives from the Macedonian embassy visited a hospital where some of the victims were taken.

Acting Prime Minister Stefan Yanev visited the crash site and told reporters it was “a great tragedy”.

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“I take this opportunity to express my condolences to the families of the victims,” ​​Yanev said. “Hope we learn a lesson from this tragic incident and that we can prevent such incidents in the future.”

In 2019, Bulgaria, an EU country of 7 million, had the second highest road fatality rate in the 27-nation bloc, with 89 deaths per million population, according to European Commission data.