At least 17 feared dead after a tour bus bursts into flames following a collision in southern Germany.
"We are realistic and will have several dead to report at the end of the day," police spokesman Juergen Stadter told rolling news channel NTV.
There was "only a glimmer of hope" that 17 people missing after the collision would be found alive outside the coach, which was completely gutted, he added. "Maybe someone ran away in shock," Stadter said.
Police said 31 people were hurt after the smash involving a tour bus near Muenchberg in Bavaria on Monday morning, reports Telegraph UK.
According to the Bild newspaper, the coach was travelling from the eastern region of Lausitz and heading for Nuremberg. The accident struck near the town Bayreuth, which draws thousands of classical music lovers every summer to its opera festival.
The region close to the Czech border is also dotted with spas and castles, and the A9 is a trunk motorway leading to many popular summer holiday spots.
Police spokeswoman Irene Brandenstein said 46 passengers and two drivers were on the bus.
Rescue operations are on.
(With agency inputs)