Nine killed, seven injured in road accident in southern Poland

Hanna Bardo/PAP

Nine people were killed and seven injured when a minibus collided with a coach on national road number 88 in Gliwice, in the southern province of Silesia late on Saturday evening. All the passengers of the minibus were killed.

The coach driver was the most seriously injured.

Gliwice police's spokesman, Sub-inspector Marek Slomski, told PAP that the accident occurred at about 22.30 at the Kleszczow junction on road 88.

"The minibus was travelling from Gliwice in the direction of Wroclaw," he said. "After hitting the oncoming coach the vehicle was completely crushed, all the people travelling in it were killed."

"The force of the collision was huge," he continued. "A moment earlier the minibus turned over onto the road and sliding on its side found itself on the other side of the road. Then the coach hit the roof of the minibus."

Police believe that the minibus driver had just tried to avoid collision with another vehicle and performed a manoeuvre that caused the minibus to go out of control. "We're still checking that," Slomski said.

Captain Damian Dudek of the State Fire Service headquarters in Gliwice told PAP the coach was carrying 49 people including the driver. Seven of them were taken to hospital with the driver in the most serious condition.

"He was trapped in the vehicle, rescuers had to use hydraulic cutting equipment to free him," Dudek explained. "That person was taken to hospital in an air ambulance. Six passengers were taken to hospital with general contusions."

All the fatalities, five men and four women, have been identified. Seven of them were residents of the Podkarpackie province in southeastern Poland, one was from the Lubuskie province in western Poland and the ninth was a citizen of Slovenia, who was driving the minibus. They were all born between 1961 and 1974. Police believe they may have been on their way to work.

Coach passengers who were not hurt in the accident travelled on to Ruda Slaska. They were taken home in a substitute coach.