Polish pilgrims injured in Croatia bus crash must return home

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Polish authorities were working Monday to repatriate injured passengers aboard a bus that crashed over the weekend in Croatia, killing 12 people while carrying Polish pilgrims to a Catholic shrine popular.

The bus with 44 passengers on board veered off a highway north of Zagreb in the early hours of Saturday. The accident injured 32 passengers, some of whom are in critical or serious condition.

An investigation is underway to determine the cause of the accident. The driver was among those killed, according to a Croatian official quoted by Polish television channel TVN24. Some early reports suggested the driver, who Polish media said was 72, may have fallen asleep at the wheel, but this has not been confirmed.

Polish police officers, who were already in Croatia to help with the large number of Polish tourists visiting Croatia’s popular Adriatic coast, have been redeployed to support Croatian rescuers assisting the injured.

The bus was taking pilgrims to the Catholic shrine in Medjugorje, a city in southern Bosnia. The sanctuary is the third most popular pilgrimage destination in Europe after Lourdes and Fatima.

Pope Francis expressed his grief on Sunday and offered prayers for the victims.

Poland’s state-run news agency said four seriously injured victims were airlifted to Warsaw over the weekend for specialist treatment. Polish Deputy Health Minister Waldemar Kraska said on Monday that authorities aim to bring more people home this week.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Health, Wojciech Andrusiewicz, said three of the injured were to be taken home on Tuesday or Wednesday and another 10 people with injuries of varying severity would be airlifted later.

Currently, 28 people remain hospitalized in Croatia, including 17 seriously injured and two in critical condition, according to the Polish Ministry of Health.

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