Photo: Haim Weingerten
Rescue forces at Taba Terminal
Photo: Haim Weingerten
Eyewitnesses: People died in our arms
Bus accident eyewitnesses: Egyptian rescue forces took long time to reach scene. Accident victims: There's no water at Egyptian hospital, people are lying on floor
Difficult scenes in Sinai: The bus that flipped over in Sinai Tuesday was packed with passengers, most of them vacationers from northern Israel who hoped to enjoy a break following a month of war.


Khusam Omar, an eyewitness to the accident, spoke about the difficulties in evacuating the wounded and the disorder at the scene.


"We pushed people into trucks, so they take them to the hospital," he said. "Egyptian ambulances only arrived after half an hour."

Nazareth travel agency (Photo: Hagai Aharon)


Members of the Juhoumis family, who were taken to a local hospital, returned to Israel furious.


"The situation at the hospital is terrible. People have no water…there are no sheets on the beds, the bathrooms are smelly – the sight
is simply shocking," one family member said. "People are lying on the hospital's floor, it's simply unbelievable. The wounded told the Egyptians they want to cross into Israel to get treatment there, but the Egyptians didn't agree."


"Nobody helped us at the scene either," another family member said. "People died at the scene because there was no help. Foreign tourists from Europe helped us rescue the wounded. What happened there is a disgrace, with all the injured children around…this is the last time we're traveling to Sinai."


Khusam Omar, 27, who resides in the upper Galilee, traveled with his wife for their annual vacation at Sharm el-Sheikh.


"We fled the war in Israel and hoped to return to a different reality, but everything blew up in our faces," Omar said.


'Sights reminiscent of terror attacks'

The bus that flipped over was the first in a convoy of eight, while Omar traveled in the second bus behind it.


"I saw difficult sights that reminded me of terror attacks in Israel," he said. "I saw body parts, bodies of children, people were yelling and crying."


"We tried to revive some of the wounded, and one of them even died in our arms. We yelled at the Egyptian forces that arrived and asked that they dispatch a helicopter or allow Israeli forces to enter and assist. They didn't respond," he added.

Ambulances wait at Taba Terminal (Photo: Haim Weingerten, Zaka)


Jameel Yakub, another eyewitness, was agitated when he walked through the Taba border terminal's gate with blood-soaked clothes. He said he rescued five wounded victims from the bus and added Egyptian forces took at least an hour to reach the scene.


"People were crying for help, we gave them water and helped whoever we could," he said. "I saw people under the bus' chassis and others who breathed their last breath. I've never seen such a shocking incident in my life."


Travel agency swamped with calls

While eyewitnesses and lightly injured accident victims are making their way to the Taba crossing, the Bassel tours travel agency that organized the trips to Sinai is swamped with phone calls from concerned families. Dozens of relatives have been calling in order to receive information about their loved ones.


"We are unable to answer all the calls and unfortunately we don’t have answers," said one of the travel agency's employees, Amir. "We handed over the list of bus passengers' names to the Egyptian embassy and to the Foreign Ministry and we're waiting for answers in order to find out who was wounded, what their condition is, and who was killed."


This is the seventh year that Bassel Tours has organized nightly buses for Arab-Israeli travelers seeking to spend their vacation at Sharm el-Sheikh. Most vacationers are from northern Israel but some came from other regions of the country as well.


Sharon Roffe-Ofir contributed to the story


פרסום ראשון: 08.22.06, 20:50
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