Five people, including three children, were killed and dozens more injured on Wednesday in northern Israel following an accident between a bus and two cars.
The victims included 35-year-old Moran Ben Eli and three of her children – Dekel, 15, Liam, 11, and Anael, five – as well as 76-year-old bus driver Asher Basson. Three others, including the father of the children, are in a serious condition and were evacuated by helicopters to nearby hospitals.
An initial probe found that the bus veered off its lane, but the police have not yet established the reason for this. "I saw a bus driving toward me," a driver recalled. "I saw it entering my lane," he added during a conversation with the police chief. Kinneret District Police Chief Avi Danieli said the bus apparently struck one car, then another, and then overturned.
Magen David Adom reported that a total of 48 people were injured and were evacuated to hospitals. One person, who was seriously injured, was evacuated to Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa, while 20 people, including 2 in serious condition, were rushed to Ziv Medical Center in Safed. Twenty-seven more people were taken to Western Galilee Hospital in Nahariya.
Yedidia Korman, a 10-year-old who was on the bus during the accident, said the driver swerved in response to a multi-vehicle accident on the road. “The driver saw a multi-vehicle accident. He tried to break, turned sideways and flipped over three times. Afterward there was a lot of screaming; I fell on my bag so I didn’t get cut as much from the glass. Then the screaming began and everyone started running to get off the bus, and climbed out the windows.”
Israel's Fire and Rescue Service sent a total of six teams to the scene. A firefighter said that "Helicopters landed at the scene to evacuate the injured."
In addition, the military is sending medical help as well as other forces that assist with evacuation efforts, a statement by the IDF confirmed.
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The accident occurred on Route 89 in the vicinity of the Druze town of Hurfeish and the bus was carrying about 40 members of the religious Zionist youth movement Bnei Akiva who were on their way back from a Sukkot trip.
According to Or Yarok Association for Safer Driving in Israel, a not-for-profit traffic safety lobbyist organization, 663 car accidents occurred on this road over the past decade, in which 23 people were killed and 1,881 were injured.
Erez Kita, Or Yarok's CEO, wished a speedy recovery to the injured and said that while Israel had seen an uptick in the number of car accidents since the beginning of the year the government has still not allocated the sufficient funds to fight the surge of accidents.