21 die as tour bus crashes on autobahn

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BERLIN (AP) - A German tour bus travelling to the Black Forest crashed on a motorway interchange in southern Germany yesterday. State police in Freiburg said 21 people were killed and 37 were hurt. Two people who were injured subsequently died.

The bus, heading for one of west Germany's main tourist attractions, was struck by a speeding passenger car travelling in the same direction, then toppled against a motorway crash barrier that slit open its side.

The accident occurred at midday at an autobahn interchange at Bad Durrheim in Germany's Baden-Wurttemberg state, about 125 miles south of Frankfurt. Four of the injured were from the passenger car. Helicopters helped ferry casualties to nearby hospitals and traffic jams built up on the busy autobahn, which links Stuttgart with the Swiss border.

The bus, licensed and registered in Werdau, in eastern Germany's Saxony state, was carrying people from the west German city of Schwarzenbach to the Black Forest region in south-western Germany. The number of tour buses on Germany's speedy autobahns has jumped dramatically since borders between the former states were erased in 1990, allowing east and west Germans to visit places many had never seen.

The opening of the borders to Eastern Europe has caused a huge jump in the volume of traffic and in accidents, particularly on the autobahn, many parts of which have no speed limit.

On 8 August, 11 people were killed when a tour bus collided with a car at Mailand, and on 1 August two tour buses collided with each other on the autobahn near Schlusselfeld, killing seven and injuring 23.