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Bus veers off cliff in Albania

Tirana - A bus carrying university students on a pre-graduation trip toppled off a mountain cliff in southern Albania on Monday, killing 12 people and injuring another 21, authorities said.

University officials said two buses had been taking 75 third-year language and literature students and three professors from Aleksander Xhuvani University in the city of Elbasan on a trip to the southern city of Saranda.

The bus that was carrying the university students lies at the bottom of a cliff near Himare in southern Albania. Credit: Associated Press

One bus carrying 33 people fell 80m off the road near the town of Himare, 220km south of the capital, Tirana, police spokesperson Klejda Plangarica said.

The cause of the crash was unclear. Albanian media quoted one of the passengers and a resident near the crash site as saying the bus had been going very fast. Albania's transport minister also said the road had been recently repaired.

Fourteen of the injured students were in serious condition and were flown by helicopter to Tirana's military hospital. One died on the way, raising the total death toll to 12. Local prefect Edmond Velcani said the bus driver was among the dead.

Prime Minister Sali Berisha sent condolences to the families of the dead, speaking from Chicago, where he was attending a Nato summit. President Bamir Topi and main opposition Socialist party leader Edi Rama visited the hospital and Rama donated blood for the injured.

The government declared a national day of mourning on Tuesday. It will also pay all funeral expenses. - Sapa-AP

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