Three Irish injured as 13 dead in Spain coach crash

The bus was taking internatinal students from Valencia to Barcelona

Three Irish injured as 13 dead in Spain coach crash

Emergency services personnel stand at the scene of a bus accident crashed on the AP7 highway that links Spain with France along the Mediterranean coast near Freginals halfway between Valencia and Barcelona early Sunday, March 20, 2016.()

Updated: 20.40

Three Irish people have received non life-threatening injuries after a bus carrying foreign students crashed, killing 13 people in northeastern Spain.

Minster of the Interior, Jorge Fernández Díaz, stated that all 13 victims who lost their lives in the crash were female.

At least 43 were hurt when the coach collided with a car and overturned on the AP7 highway near Freginals around 6am local time.

According to El País, Interior Minister of the Government of Catalonia Jordi Jané stated that they are confident that they can identify the majority of those who died, but that they expect it to be difficult to identify of the victims. 

The same outlet reports that Antoni Comín, Minister for Health for the Catalan Government, stated that 23 people remain in hospital with varying prognoses, three of whom are in critical condition. 

The injured, aged between 22-29 years old, were from Ireland, Britain, Switzerland, Norway, Turkey, Ukraine and Barcelona, local media said.

The students were part of the European Union student exchange programme Erasmus, with most believed to have been studying at the Universitat de Barcelona.

The coach, carrying 56 people including the driver, was returning from the renowned Fallas fireworks festival in Valencia when it crashed.

The driver is being held at a police station in the city of Tortosa, according to Jordi Jane, Catalonia's interior minister.

An investigation is looking into the cause of the crash, which happened around halfway between Valencia and Barcelona.

Mr Jane said the coach driver "hit the railing on the right and swerved to the left so violently that the bus veered on to the other side of the highway".

The bus then hit a car coming in the opposite direction, adding that road conditions were good at the time.

Emergency workers are still working to clear the wreckage on the AP7 highway, which runs along Spain's eastern coast.

Images from the scene showed the bus lying on its side and three hearses taking bodies away.

Catalonia's newly elected president, Carles Puigdemont, has declared two days of mourning, and will attend an event in Barcelona at 12pm on Monday (local time) to mark the loss of life in the accident. The mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, will also be in attendance, and they will pay their respects with five minutes of silence. 

The local Catalonian government had urged people who need further information to call +34 900400012.