At least 15 people were killed when a tourist coach crashed along a winding road in west Bulgaria, the health ministry says.

Journalists gather around a bus that crashed near Plovdiv, some 130 kilometres (81 miles) east of Sofia, Bulgaria, June 15, 2011. (File photo)
Journalists gather around a bus that crashed near Plovdiv, some 130 kilometres (81 miles) east of Sofia, Bulgaria, June 15, 2011. (File photo) (AP)

Bulgaria's health minister says a tourist bus has flipped over on a highway near Sofia, the capital, killing at least 15 people and leaving 27 others injured.

Police said a bus carrying tourists on a weekend trip to a nearby resort overturned and then fell down a side road 20 metres below the highway. The accident happened at 5:10 pm Saturday about 20 kilometres north of Sofia.

Health Minister Kiril Ananiev gave the death toll. Ambulances rushed to the scene and took the injured to Sofia hospitals. Doctors said some of the injured were in critical condition.

Four cars were crushed in the accident, according to police.

There was no immediate information about the nationality of the passengers.

The government quickly declared Monday a national day of mourning.

Bulgaria is the poorest country in the European Union. Its road network in parts is poorly maintained and many of the vehicles are relatively old.

There are around a thousand road accident victims each year throughout the country.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies