Rescue teams aid tour bus that crashed into a rock face on E18 in Namsskogan on Tuesday. Photo: Terje Næss / NTB scanpix
A driver of a coach from Switzerland that crashed in central Norway, killing three and leaving one seriously injured, has been charged for careless driving on Tuesday.
Sheriff Stein Erik Granli said to the newspaper "Trønder-avisa" that the German bus driver has been temporarily charged for careless driving.
The tour bus carrying 17 passengers from Switzerland that veered off the road in Namsskogan will be examined by police on Wednesday. The police have started questioning accident witnesses and the bus will also be looked at by forensic experts.
The accident occurred at 12pm, 6km north of Trones in Namsskogan, a municipality within the county of North-Trøndelag. The road was closed for several hours between Grong and Brekkvasselv at Trones as emergency services worked.
The Swiss company Eurobus has confirmed one of their mini-buses carrying a group of Swiss tourists was involved in an incident on the E18 in central Norway.
Paul Georg Skogen, acting head of emergency at Namsos hospital, said to NTB: “Three persons are dead, and one patient is at St. Olaf Hospital in Trondheim, critically injured. The thirteen now at the hospital in Namsos are uninjured or lightly injured.”
Namsos hospital is on a crisis alert and has called in all available resources. The Consulate of Switzerland are helping contact next of kin.
Switzerland's ambassador to Norway, Rudolf Knoblauch, says to NTB: “I'm amazed by how quickly the emergency departments have reacted. At the same time this is a very sad case for the involved people and their next-to-kin.”
Truck driver Johannes Rekonius arrived at the scene of the accident and attempted to rescue a man trapped under the crashed bus.
Rekonius said to newspaper “Namdalsavisa”: “The bus squeezed the chest of the man. I only saw his leg and his hand. First he held me hard, then he started shaking and finally he let go of his grip. He died while I held his hand.”
Arnt Skau and his wife were on a driving holiday and were driving among traffic behind the bus. Arnt said to newspaper “Trønder-Avisa”: "The bus veered violently before the accident happened. It passed the middle of the road several times before it suddenly went out into the ditch.”
"Many were seriously injured and were lying around on the scene. Several people arrived at the scene started to cry while they sat among those who were injured or dead."
In total 17 people were on board. The passengers were mostly elderly people. The bus driver is supposedly among the 13 who are sent to the hospital in Namsos.
The bus is reported to have veered off the road and crashed into a mountainside. The cause of the incident is unknown at this stage, but it is believed the quality of the road surface may have been a factor that caused the accident.
Namsskogan Mayor, Stian Brekkvassmo,said to NTB: “We have more than 80km of E6 in the municipality and we are unfortunately quite used to accidents. In situations like this, we see how important good emergency measures are.”
The mayor added there was a need to upgrade the standard of the road on the E6 from Steinkjer towards the border of Nordland county.
Brekkvassmo said: “One of the greatest risks we expose ourselves to as humans, is driving on the E6. The subsidies unfortunately go to places where the number of citizens are highest.”
Brekkvassmo informed new asphalt was laid on the site of the accident earlier this summer.
The Norwegian Public Roads Administration informed the newspaper “Adresseavisen” the newly asphalted stretch was marked with signs for both slippery and bumpy road.
Representatives from the Accident Investigation Board Norway arrived at the scene of the accident and began an investigation on Tuesday.
Photo: Terje Næss / NTB scanpix