At least 18 people are feared dead after a tourist bus burst into flames after a collision with a trailer truck in southern Germany on Monday, AFP reported quoting police officials. “Thirty passengers were taken to hospitals, some with serious injuries. The others are believed to have died in the burning tour bus,” the police said in a statement. Forty-eight people were on board.

However, other reports put the toll at 17, quoting local newspaper Frankenpost. Police spokesperson Juergen Stadter said the officials were being “realistic” and added that several more people would be reported dead by the end of the day.

The accident took place when the vehicles were stuck in a traffic jam on the motorway A9 close to the Bavarian town of Stammbach, which is close to the Czechoslovakian border. According to the Bild, the Nuremberg-bound tour bus was travelling from the eastern region of Lausitz.

An emergency team of firefighters and rescue workers are at the spot, and traffic has been halted on both sides of the motorway. The injured were flown to hospitals by rescue helicopters. “Unfortunately numerous people – a tour group from [the eastern German state of] Saxony – lost their lives in this burning bus,” government spokesman Steffen Seibert told a news conference.