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18 People Confirmed Dead in Bus Crash on German Highway

Eighteen people were killed and dozens more were injured in a fiery bus crash on a highway in the German state of Bavaria, police said Monday.

The bus, carrying mostly German senior citizens, crashed into a truck and burst into flames on the A9 highway near Muenchberg, which is close to the border with the Czech Republic.

Two of the injured passengers were in life-threatening condition, according to police. The identities of the passengers and drivers were not immediately known.

Image: Coffins near Muenchberg, Germany
Police and rescuers stand near coffins on a motorway near Muenchberg, Germany, on Monday after a bus crashed into a truck and burst into flames. Nicolas Armer / AP

Police said in tweets that people on the bus were ages 41 to 81 and mostly from Saxony, which is in eastern Germany. Forty-eight people were on the bus when it hit the truck and burst into flames.

About 200 emergency workers were at the scene, and helicopters whisked away the injured to nearby hospitals. Simple wooden caskets were wheeled in for the remains recovered from the blackened, twisted wreckage of the bus.

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German Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt visited the site of the crash Monday afternoon as bodies were being recovered.

Dobrindt said that when firefighters arrived, the heat of the fire was so strong that they couldn't get near the bus to rescue the people locked inside, but were only able to start extinguishing the fire.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel thanked rescuers and expressed her sadness.

"Our thoughts are with the families of the victims, and we wish all those who were injured a speedy recovery," she said.

The crashed happened at about 7 a.m. GMT (3 a.m. ET).