Slovak state flags were lowered to half mast on Sunday, February 22, from 8:00 to 20:00 as a part of a national day of mourning in the wake of Saturday's fatal bus crash in Polomka in Banská Bystrica region in which 12 people were killed, the TASR newswire wrote.
Along with the 12 dead there were another 38 people injured when a tourist bus collided with a local passenger train at a railway crossing at Polomka-Heľpa at 9:05 on Saturday, February 21. The bus was carrying tourists from Bánovce nad Bebravou heading for the ski slopes when it entered an unguarded railway crossing just as a train was passing. Six severely injured were transported to hospital in Banská Bystrica. Another nine people are hospitalised in Brezno.
The investigators have already questioned the train driver and the bus driver, whose injuries are not life threatening but they have not been able to give clear testimony so far.
Slovak Interior Minister Robert Kaliňák, speaking about the possible cause of the accident, said on February 21 that in cases like these a bus should not be crossing the railway tracks and the reasons why it was doing so will probably be clearer in the upcoming days. The Minister mentioned the Slovak traffic rules which require a vehicle to yield to a train.
"In this case, this did not happen," he said, adding that the view to the left side, from where the train was coming, was good.
Slovak television networks and theatres changed their program plans in the wake of the accident and Sunday's national day of mourning. The public Slovak Television (STV), TV Markíza and TA3 cancelled their regular political discussion shows and otherwise adjusted their broadcasting to the situation. Theatres cancelled their evening performances. TASR
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.
23. Feb 2009 at 14:00