Israeli security forces began airlifting those wounded in the terror attack on a bus filled with Israeli tourists in the Bulgarian coastal town of Burgas on Thursday, hours after officials in both Israel and Bulgaria estimated that the attack was perpetrated by a suicide bomber.
The 34 wounded were transferred from the Burgas hospital using buses and ambulances to the nearby airport, where Israel Air Force transport planes were waiting, taking off shortly after.
Among the wounded was a man in serious, but stable condition. Speaking to Army Radio, the deputy to the IDF's top medical officer said that Israeli hospitals have been prepped for the arrival of the wounded.
Earlier Thursday, it was reported that the death toll from the attack rose to six Israelis, after one of the wounded succumbed to his wounds in the hospital. However, the Foreign Ministry later revised its initial statement, saying that the seventh casualty was the bus driver.
All in all, five Israelis died in the attack, along with the suicide bomber and the bus driver.
Speaking to Haaretz earlier in the day, a Foreign Ministry official said that the attack was a result of a suicide bombing, an estimate seconded by comments made by Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Metodiev Borisov.
The Bulgarian police said that footage from airport security cameras captured the suspect roaming the airport for at least one hour, the Bulgarian news agency Novinite reported. According to the report he was a long-haired Caucasian in sportswear.
The body suspected as belonging to the terrorist had a U.S. driver's license issued in Michigan – apparently fake.
During the night, two Israeli aircrafts carrying medical staff, a casualty identification team, a police forensic team, as well as, Israeli diplomats to assist in the return of Israelis, who lost their identification in the attack.
Gideon Meir, deputy director of the Israeli foreign ministry, said that the governments of Bulgaria and Israel are closely cooperating to deal with the aftermath of the attack.
Israel is involved in both the treatment of the wounded and in the investigation of the attack.
Pictures from Burgas
According to Meir, Bulgaria has agreed to send a plane from Burgas to Israel to aid in the return of Israelis stranded there.
During the night, all 32 of the Israeli wounded were checked by Israeli medical staff. Israeli embassy workers in Bulgaria contacted all Israelis that were on the flight and fell victim to the attack.
A large number of passengers are still in the airport, refusing to go to the hotel fearing an additional attack. They were provided water and blankets by the Israeli embassy.
Overnight, a team of 8 Israeli forensic experts was dispatched to Bulgaria, given the task of identifying the victims, and preparing the bodies for their return to Israel. At the head of the team is Uri Argaman, the head of the police's forensic identification unit.
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