Eckehard Schulz  /  AP
A crane lifts the tour bus that crashed near Halle, Germany, on Monday.
updated 6/18/2007 1:26:22 PM ET 2007-06-18T17:26:22

A bus carrying a group of senior citizens was hit by a truck in eastern Germany on Monday and plunged down an embankment, killing 13 people, authorities said.

Police spokesman Ralf Moritz said 31 other people were injured, many of them seriously, in the accident on the A14 highway between Halle and Magdeburg.

The bus, carrying 48 senior citizens from Hopsten, in northwestern Germany, came off the road at about 1:45 p.m. The bus landed on its roof at the bottom of a roadside embankment.

Moritz said the accident happened when a truck ran into the bus at the site of a previous accident, causing the bus driver to lose control of its steering. The vehicle was traveling slowly at the time.

Five rescue helicopters were called out, and some of the injured were taken to hospitals in Halle and Magdeburg.

The head of the town council in Hopsten, Johannes Kramer, said the bus was carrying a group of local farmers on an annual tour, and that they were headed for the region around the eastern city of Dresden.

The tour was operated by Strier Reisen, a company based in nearby Ibbenbueren.

Its manager, Thomas Strier, said the driver, whom he described as "very reliable and experienced," survived the accident. The Scania bus was four years old, he said.

Strier said the driver had spoken with the company, and that he was "totally in shock."

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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