15 die, 25 injured as bus carrying Russian tourists plunges off bridge
Fifteen passengers were killed and 25 others injured when a bus carrying tourists plunged off a bridge and tumbled into a riverbed.
According to news reports, the bus was heading from Antalya's Alanya district to Pamukkale, located in the Aegean province of Denizli and famous for its travertine terraces. The bus, driven by Hikmet Yılmaz, plunged off Aksu bridge in the district and fell about 15 meters below into a river, landing on its roof. Ambulances and rescue teams were immediately dispatched to the scene. Rescue teams found the bodies of 15 people; however, news reports indicate that fatalities may increase due to the severe injuries sustained by other passengers.
Survivors of the crash were taken to various local hospitals, including the Medical Park Hospital and the Akdeniz University Hospital, both in Antalya.
“We are very saddened by this unfortunate accident. The cause has not yet been determined; however, we believe the driver may have fallen asleep at the wheel,” Antalya Deputy Governor Mehmet Sayman said.
Mirdzhalol Khusanov, the consul general of the Russian Federation in Antalya, said most of those who perished have yet to be identified and that authorities are working to identify everyone.
Antalya Chamber of Tour Guides (ARO) Vice President Oktay Tilki told the Anatolia news agency that Mustafa Günel, the tourist guide who was on the bus, died along with the foreign tourists. Tilki noted that Günel was involved in a traffic accident last year and treated at a hospital for his injuries. The ARO vice president also said tourism officials should take safety precautions to prevent these types of accidents from occurring again.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev issued a written statement on the accident, conveying his condolences to the families of the victims and wishing all the injured a speedy recovery. Medvedev called for an investigation to be carried out into the event. A Russian plane was sent to Turkey to repatriate the bodies of the 15 victims to their homeland.
Antalya Culture and Tourism Agency General Manager İbrahim Acar said an in-depth investigation has been launched into the accident. Speaking to Anatolia on Tuesday, Acar noted that he is in contact with the bus company’s officials, who have said they will do whatever is necessary to aid in the investigation.Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay plans to visit Antalya today.