We trust the Israel Police to investigate the incident thoroughly, Russia's Deputy Ambassador to Israel Anatoly Yurkov said Wednesday as he waited for the family members of Tuesday's fatal bus crash victims to land in Israel.
Twenty-five Russian travel agents on their way to the southern city of Eilat were killed in the accident, after their vehicle dived 45-feet off the highway. About 30 people were injured.
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Talking to Ynet, Yurkov described the steps taken by the embassy following the accident.
"We verified the condition of the dead and injured in cooperation with the Israel authorities and it was decided last night that the final identification of the dead will take place in Russia," he said.
Leaving airport (Photo: Yaron Brener)
Yurkov added that the injured victims of the crash would remain in Israel with their families until their conditions allowed they be moved to Russia.
"Anyone who was lightly inured and is able to fly will be taken by their relatives in the next few days," Yurkov explained.
'I'm in the midst of a nightmare'
Tatiana Pothina landed in Israel on Wednesday on a plane which left St. Petersburg with 16 relatives of people injured in the crash. In a shaky voice and with tears in her eyes, she told Ynet she was "in the midst of a nightmare" while her 29-year-old daughter was still hospitalized unconscious at the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba.
"Only yesterday at 3:30 pm she sent me a text message saying that everything was okay and that she had landed in Israel. And then at 7:30 pm I heard that the bus she was supposed to be in flipped over," she said.
Her daughter's partner also arrived in Israel. "I know she's in serious condition and unconscious, so I haven't talked to her. This was her first visit to Israel, and when I heard my daughter was involved in an accident I felt like I was in a nightmare," she said.
Two Russian psychologists arrived with the family members. The relatives were also greeted by representatives of the Selah Crisis Management Center who aid immigrants in trouble, and Russian-speaking social workers who volunteered to help the victims.
One of the social workers, Natasha Kortz, told Ynet that the people didn't want to talk. "It's their basic mentality; that's why they didn't want to talk to the media as well. They're not very open. Some of them cry, but the rest try not to. They're very reserved. They just sit in the bus and look out the window."
'They just sit in the bus and look out the window' (Photo: Yaron Brener)
Israeli Ambassador to Russia Anna Azari said Wednesday that "Russia is shocked by the human tragedy and mourning the death of 25 of its citizen in the horrible accident near Eilat, and is expressing its appreciation for Israel's actions.
"This is a tragic event which has made the headlines in the media. I have been giving interviews to Russian media outlets, which have shown a great amount of interest in the tragedy," the ambassador added.
"Alongside the great interest, the media and Russian government are showing a lot of appreciation for Israel's handling of the matter since yesterday, from the rescue efforts to the hospital treatment and the contact with Russia," she added.
Meanwhile, the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations, along with the Travel Lux agency, will be funding the accommodation of the relatives in Israel.
Yurkov stressed that although news of the tragedy was taken hard in Russia, there was no anger directed at Israel.
The deputy ambassador said he believed the accident would not lead to a significant hit to the number of Russian tourists coming to Israel. "I don't expect a drastic drop, but it's still too soon to tell," he said.