President Shimon Peres spoke with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev Tuesday evening and expressed sorrow on behalf of the people of Israel for the bus accident that claimed the lives of 25 Russian citizens Tuesday.
"It appears that the mistake of one person has resulted in the pain of an entire nation," Peres said.
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Peres assured his Russian counterpart that the State of Israel was doing everything in its capacity to provide quality treatment to the wounded.
Medvedev thanked Peres and asked him to convey his gratitude to the government, the Israeli authorities and the rescue and medical teams for their quick response in handling the accident.
He told Peres that the Russian authorities had been instructed to stay in touch with the Israeli rescue and medical teams, and added that another plane was ready to leave for Israel should any additional assistance will be required.
"With complete cooperation we will save all the remaining inured," Medvedev stated.
Nine of the wounded are currently hospitalized at the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba, one in critical condition and the others in serious condition.
Scene of the accident (Photo: Ruhama Biton)
Another 18 casualties have been evacuated to hospitals in central Israel during the evening. Two were flown in by a helicopter to the Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center in Jerusalem and the rest were transported by plane to the military airfield in Lod and from there taken to the Sheba, Assaf Harofeh and Beilinson medical centers.
Earlier Tuesday, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who is currently in a visit to London, expressed sorrow over the terrible tragedy and the large number of casualties.
The prime minister was briefed on the accident's details and said he was shocked by its "horrific outcome." Olmert conveyed his condolences to the Russian president and the victims' families.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni also conveyed her condolences to her Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov following the crash and assured him that Israel would do its utmost to expedite treatment of the injured and assist their families. The two agreed to keep each other updated on developments.
Livni also spoke with the governor of St. Petersburg Valentina Matviyenko and briefed her on the fatal accident.
Livni provided Matviyenko with the details of the accident and stressed that the Foreign Ministry is willing to extend any assistance necessary to the casualties and the Russian authorities.