“The children started to cry”: North Macedonia mourns the victims of the bus crash in Bulgaria

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STUDENICANI, North Macedonia, Nov. 24 (Reuters) – A village school in North Macedonia closed early Wednesday after it was learned that 14-year-old student Anisa Iseni and her mother were among 45 dead in a bus accident in neighboring Bulgaria.

Anisa, a 9th grader, and her mother, Fikrija, 37, were on the bus carrying weekend tourists from Istanbul to the Macedonian capital, Skopje, when they hit a roadblock before dawn Tuesday. Only seven people on board survived.

“When they heard the news the children started to cry and they could not concentrate,” said Semira Idrizi, dermatologist at the Naim Frasheri school in the village of Studenicani, 23 km south-east of Skopje. .

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Pointing to the desk where Anisa was sitting, Idrizi said, “She was a very smart girl. All of her grades were fantastic.”

His mother, Fikrija, taught Macedonian at the predominantly Albanian school.

Anisa’s cousin, Fati Iseni, said the teenager sent numerous photos of Istanbul on Monday. “She was like a girl to me. We lived in the same house,” he said in tears. “His father is broken, he cannot speak.”

A passenger list on the 800 km (500 mile) list of journeys published by the Skopje media suggested that most of the victims, including 12 schoolchildren, were from the Albanian ethnic minority in North Macedonia.

The government in Skopje has decreed three days of mourning and ordered the flags to be half-masted – 20 years after a brief ethnic Albanian uprising that sparked a process of reconciliation and full rights for the minority community.

The ethnic-majority Bulgarian and Albanian governments in Kosovo also declared Wednesday a day of mourning.

Some 250 students from the Ismail Qemali School in Skopje laid flowers on a monument to medieval Albanian hero Skenderbeg in the capital in tribute to five classmates, all of the Jahi family, who were killed in the accident along with their mother.

I CAN ONLY HEAR HIS VOICE

In Sofia, the Bulgarian capital, people left flowers and toys in front of the North Macedonian embassy.

Bulgarian authorities continued to investigate the accident, with human error or a technical problem remaining the most likely factors, although the condition of the stretch of motorway where the accident occurred was also to blame.

Among the few survivors were Lulzim Sylejmani, an ethnic Albanian from the Serbian town of Presevo, and his fiancee from a village in North Macedonia, Medina Lutfiu.

“It was late and everyone was asleep. I was sleeping too. My fiance woke me up and broke the window. Then I couldn’t see anything. He jumped. I could only hear his voice,” said Lutfiu said on Bulgarian national television.

“There was a man behind me, who stepped on my feet. He was trying to save himself. I managed to get up and go out the window,” said Lutfiu, who said a fire broke out. was declared after the bus hit the barrier. .

Relatives of the dead and survivors of the crash gathered at Pirogov Hospital in Sofia awaiting more information.

Isa Doshliak, 47, who lost his wife and two other loved ones in the hell of the bus, said he was told DNA tests would be carried out on Thursday, but still did not know when the bodies of his relatives could be brought home.

North Macedonian Foreign Minister Bujar Osmani said after visiting hospitalized passengers on Wednesday that DNA samples had been collected to help identify the victims.

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Additional reporting by Fatos Bytyci in Pristina and Tsvetelia Tsolova in Sofia Editing by Mark Heinrich and Leslie Adler

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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