Prominent Bulgarian political leader Rumen Radev, who is set to run for president in May elections, said he lost 12 of his children in a fire that killed 45 people, including 12 children, in southwestern Bulgaria on Monday night.
Radev, a Bulgarian member of the European Parliament, made the announcement on his Facebook page. He included photos of the identification cards for his children.
“There is a value that comes with weight and loss. By then the various bodies of children have disappeared into the flames,” he wrote. “Sadly these bodies will not be recovered from the bus but will live on forever in my heart.
“As a father, grandfather and political leader, I cannot be silent over this tragedy,” he added.
Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov told reporters the blaze broke out during a fireworks display at an outdoor festival organized by the ruling party in the mountain village of Halvar village. The bus had been driving the crowd back to the village after the fireworks display.
Bulgaria is scheduled to hold presidential elections on May 28. The death toll was revised from 35.
Update: May 7, 10:12 a.m.
The number of dead has risen to 45, although only 35 bodies have been recovered.
The death toll will rise further, Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov told the country’s parliament on Tuesday.
“Not all the coffins have been identified yet,” Tsvetanov said, adding: “There are families who are waiting for the information of their relatives.”
More than 1,500 policemen and volunteers and 51 fire engines were searching for bodies, he said.
A forensic team was looking at the cause of the fire, he said.
Bulgaria is to hold presidential elections on May 28. The deaths will affect the makeup of the next Bulgarian presidency in the European Union, where Bulgaria will assume the rotating presidency in 2014.
President Rosen Plevneliev traveled to the scene of the fire to lay flowers and comfort relatives of the victims.
Bulgaria’s interim government declared a week of mourning. The celebration was to be called off, and similar fairs and concerts by representatives of the ruling GERB party were canceled.