Police say they fear a number of people may have died when a bus went up in flames after it crashed into a truck Monday morning in southern Germany, injuring 31 people and leaving 17 others unaccounted for.
"We're afraid that people may have died in the accident," police spokeswoman Irene Brandenstein said.
She said several people were severely injured in the crash near Muenchberg in Bavaria.
Local Oberfranken police tweeted that the travel group came from Saxony in eastern Germany and that a phone number had been activated to provide family members with information.
Police have said that 48 people were believed to be aboard the vehicle – understood to be a tour bus – adding: “The fate of the other passengers is currently the subject of police action on the ground.”
Pictures of the scene show the burnt out shell of the vehicle.
Two drivers and 46 people and were on the bus, Brandenstein said.
German news channel n-tv showed images of the bus which was burned down to a black, smoking skeleton.
A spokesman has told broadcaster n-tv that police expect there to be several fatalities, adding that there was only a “glimmer of hope” some may have escaped the inferno.
Several helicopters and ambulances were on the scene to rescue the injured and the A9 highway was closed in both directions because of the accident.
It is believed that the bus crashed into a truck at the end of a traffic jam as it travelled towards Nuremberg.
Police spokeswoman, Anne Hoefer, said the passengers were “old people” and that some may not have made it out of the bus.
Emergency services and helicopters were on the scene to rescue the injured from the A9 highway, which had been closed because of the accident.
Brandenstein said the bus crashed into the truck at the end of a traffic jam.
She had no information immediately about what happened to the truck driver.
She said she had no information about who was on the bus.