18 people feared dead after tour bus crash in Germany

Around 30 people were injured in the collision on a motorway in Bavaria

18 people feared dead after tour bus crash in Germany

Picture by: News5 / Fricke/DPA/PA Images

Up to 18 people are feared dead after a coach collided with a lorry in southern Germany - causing it to catch fire.

The accident happened on the A9 motorway near the town of Bayreuth in Bavaria at around 7am local time.

Around 46 passengers, plus two drivers, were on board the tour bus at the time of the smash.

Thirty people were hurt, some suffering serious injuries. The others on board "are believed to have died on the burning bus", police said.

Images of the scene showed both vehicles completely gutted by the blaze.

It is unclear what caused the collision, which is being investigated.

Picture by: Bodo Schackow/AP/Press Association Images

"Unfortunately, numerous people... lost their lives in this burning bus," said Steffen Seibert, a spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Police spokesman Juergen Stadter added there was only "a glimmer of hope" of finding more survivors.

"Maybe someone ran away in shock," he said.

Forensic experts have been attending the scene.

The coach was travelling from the eastern region of Lausitz in Saxony towards Nuremberg when it crashed into the lorry at the end of a traffic jam, according to Bild.

The lorry load included beds and pillows and also immediately went up in flames, the German newspaper said.

The tour bus was from Dresden and heading for Lake Garda in Italy, Frankenpost reported.

It was unclear what type of tour group the bus was carrying, and if there were any foreign tourists on board.

Up to 200 emergency services personnel including firefighters, rescuers in helicopters and paramedics attended the incident.

"Our thoughts go to the victims and their family members, as well as to the injured," said Mrs Merkel's spokesman.

"We hope that those who have been rescued will recover from their injuries."