The accident happened near Freginals, in the northeast of the country. A further thirty people were injured in the crash, with three in critical condition.
Most of the victims were Erasmus students, who were returning to Barcelona after attending a traditional celebration of Saint Joseph in Valencia. The coach was one of five making the trip back to Barcelona after the event.
“The accident took place in the early morning on the AP-7 highway, near Freginals”
While the nationalities of those killed have not been identified, the students on the coach represented 19 nationalities including Japan, Ukraine, the Netherlands and the UK. All of those killed were female.
“Erasmus Student Network Spain is deeply saddened to inform about the traffic accident suffered by a bus in which exchange students and volunteers from the organisation were travelling,” the organisation said in a statement.
“The accident took place in the early morning on the AP-7 highway, near Freginals, when the students were on their way to Barcelona coming back from the “Fallas” festivity in Valencia. Unfortunately, there have been several fatal victims and injured students.”
The statement added that ESN volunteers are in close contact with the authorities.
The accident happened at around 6am Sunday morning, local time. The driver of the coach was among the survivors, and tested negative for drugs and alcohol.
The crash occurred in Freginals early on Sunday morning.
“Everything points to human error being the cause of the accident, though it’s too early to say,” said Jordi Jané, Catalonia’s interior minister.
“There’s no reason to think there was a problem with the road itself.”
The University of Barcelona, one of the universities involved in organising the trip, has lowered its flags to half-mast.
“We feel deeply sorry about the loss of these youngster and we really appreciate the signs of support we are receiving from the citizens,” the university said on its Twitter account.
Catalonia’s president, Carles Puigdemont, has declared two days of mourning.