Sandstorm Kills 1, Injures Dozens On Hungary Highway

Monday, March 13, 2023 | Tag Cloud

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By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News

BUDAPEST (Worthy News) – An unprecedented sandstorm likely caused a massive pile-up on Hungary’s M1 highway towards the Austrian capital Vienna, killing one person and injuring dozens, authorities announced Saturday.

Officials said Saturday’s tragedy, about 16 miles (26 kilometers) west of Budapest, involved 37 cars and five trucks. Police later confirmed that “one lifeless body” was recovered from a burned-out vehicle, while 39 people, including ten children, were injured.

Nineteen vehicles caught fire and were destroyed in one of the most significant car collisions in Hungary’s recent history, police said. In the other direction, on the lane leading to Budapest, Hungary’s capital, two cars collided, but these vehicles did not catch fire, witnesses explained.

Fire brigades from Budapest and other areas rushed to the scene, Worthy News learned.

The highway operator Hungarian Concession Infrastructure Development Plc. (MKIF) said the accident “could have been caused by the local blowing of dust, which may have caused a sudden decrease in visibility.”

Footage shared with Worthy News showed a car driver‘s vision suddenly blinded by the massive storm. Yet the driver could escape without harm, unlike many injured persons who were likely overwhelmed by the suddenly appearing sandstorm, according to investigators.


Traumatized parents and children could be seen walking near the many burning car wrecks. “In the mass accident, ten children were injured, four seriously and six lightly. Additionally, twenty-nine adults were injured, ten of whom were in critical condition, while nineteen were slightly wounded,” confirmed Győrfi Pál, the spokesperson of the National Ambulance Service.

Four helicopters and 16 ambulances took 39 people to hospitals in Hungary’s capital Budapest, and the cities of Győr, Tatabánya, and Székesfehérvár, authorities said.

Saturday’s sandstorm was part of a broader unusual weather pattern with record wind speeds of up to 117 kilometers (73 miles per hour) recorded in Budapest.

Rescue and recovery work lasted well into the night, forcing the closure of a section of one of Central and Eastern Europe’s major highways. “Due to the circumstances of the accident, the removal of the wreckage took more time than usual. In addition, the mud created by the sandstorm and extinguishing burning vehicles made cleaning difficult,” MKIF said.

By Sunday morning, the road reopened, but questions remained about how and if the tragedy could have been prevented.

Hungary has seen numerous car crashes but was voted last year as “the world’s 6th safest country to drive” by Zutobi, a Swedish driving theory learning platform.

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