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Middle East
Deaths in Israeli tourist bus crash
Bus packed with Russian travel agents plunges into ravine near Red Sea resort town.
Last Modified: 16 Dec 2008 20:39 GMT

The bus was carrying Russian tourists
when it crashed near Eilat

More than 20 people have been killed and dozens more injured after a tourist bus plunged down a ravine near the southern Israeli city of Eilat.

Rescue teams were working to reach people trapped inside the wreckage of the vehicle which crashed off a desert road on Tuesday.

The passengers were among 150 Russian travel agents who had just arrived in Eilat from St. Petersburg for an information gathering trip, Russian media reported.

The scene of the crash "looks like a battlefield," Michel Alexei, the bus owner, told the Yediot Ahronot daily newspaper website.

Thirty ambulances and six Israeli air force helicopters were rushed to the scene.

 

The tourist bus crashed through a guard rail and down the ravine after it tried to overtake another tour vehicle in a no-pass area, Rami Azani, the driver of the second bus, said.

Among those wounded, 15 were in a critical condition, according to rescue services.

"It may well be that this could be the worst bus accident in Israel's history; it is certain ly the worst in the last 20 years," Dan Nolan, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Jerusalem, said.

"Wreckage has been strewn across a wide area. Rescuers not only have to try to free those trapped inside the bus but treat others thrown from the bus as it rolled down the hill.

"Even the Israeli health ministry has called for any doctors or nurses who are on holiday in Eilat to actually come down to the local hospital to help out."

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