Several helicopters land on the motorway, ambulances race to the scene of the accident: a coach operated by Flixbus on the way from Berlin to Zurich had a serious accident on the A9 motorway near Leipzig on Wednesday. The police speak of 5 dead and more than 20 injured. No information is initially provided about the identity, age and gender of the victims.

According to initial findings, the double-decker bus left the road for an unknown reason on a straight route between the Wiedemar junction and the Schkeuditzer Kreuz. The vehicle then raced almost 100 meters across the grass verge, rolling down bushes and small trees and finally crashing onto its side. A police spokesman emphasized that no other vehicle was likely involved in the accident. The important north-south route between Berlin and Munich was closed in both directions for several hours.

According to the Flixbus company, there were 53 passengers and two drivers on board the long-distance bus. A company spokesman said that we were working closely with the local authorities and the rescue workers on site and that everything was being done to clarify the cause of the accident quickly and completely. “Our thoughts are with everyone affected by this accident and their families.”

It was only after three hours that the crashed bus could be righted with the help of belts and several dead people removed from the interior. Mobile privacy screens shielded the action. The salvage work has now begun. A rescue crane was on site, a police spokeswoman said on Wednesday evening. The motorway in the direction of Munich is still completely closed. It initially remained unclear when the blockage would be lifted.

According to the police, the driver of the coach is not among the dead. Details about the man’s health were not given. According to the bus company, the driver had been at the wheel since leaving Berlin at 8 a.m. and had adhered to all driving and rest times. It was still unclear when the bus would be recovered. At least the A9 towards Berlin was reopened in the early afternoon.

Hospitals in the area had prepared for a large-scale operation. The emergency room has been alerted and operating rooms and diagnostic rooms are being prepared and available, said a spokesman for the Diakonissen Hospital in Leipzig upon request. In addition, the control center has been informed about the capacities it has for admitting patients. Eight injured people were treated at Leipzig University Hospital, including one seriously injured, a spokesman said upon request.

Such accidents are shocking, said Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) to the news channel “Welt”. “And now it’s about the security forces on site having to clarify the matter and helping the people who urgently need help now.”

Saxony’s Interior Minister Armin Schuster (CDU) took an overview of the accident site and expressed his condolences to the relatives of the victims. In addition, “I hope that the injured get better quickly.” Schuster thanked the rescue workers for their professional efforts. It was a “difficult situation” that was “handled excellently”. He saw in the firefighters’ faces “how difficult these scenes were.”

Saxony’s Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer (CDU) described the news of the crashed bus on X (formerly Twitter) as “difficult to bear”. “In these difficult hours, my thoughts are with the relatives and survivors of those who died.”

Saxony’s Transport Minister Martin Dulig was also dismayed. “My thoughts are with the relatives of the victims and injured,” said the SPD politician. “I would like to thank the many emergency services on site who provided quick help.”

There was already a serious bus accident on the A9 near Bad Dürrenberg in Saxony-Anhalt in 2019. A woman died and several people were injured. In December 2023, a coach also had an accident on the A9 near Leipzig, leaving several people injured.

Note: This article has been updated several times.