Death toll climbs to 19 after bus falls from bridge in Eastern Siberia

Death toll climbs to 19 after bus falls from bridge in Eastern Siberia

Agency News

Moscow, Dec 1: Nineteen people died Sunday after a passenger bus plunged from a bridge onto an ice-covered river near the Eastern Siberian city of Sretensk in Russia, the regional governor’s office said.

A spokesman for the Zabaykalsky region’s emergency services told Sputnik earlier that 15 people had died and 18 were injured in the fall.

"According to an update, the accident in the Sretensk area killed 19 people, while 21 others received various kinds of injuries," the authorities told reporters. The Kia Grandbird bus with 43 passengers was traveling from Chita to Sretensk when it veered off the bridge and fell onto the ice of the Kuenga River. Russian Interior Ministry's Main Directorate for Traffic Safety blamed the fatal accident on a front-tire burst.

The 43-year-old driver of the bus died at the scene, according to the regional interior affairs department. "The driver — a resident of the Chita region born in 1976 — died of his wounds at the site of the road accident," the department's press office said.

Two medivac helicopters have been sent to the site some 37 miles from Sretensk. Governor Alexander Osipov is expected to visit the scene. A criminal investigation into the accident has been launched.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has offered his condolences to the victims' friends and families. He has ordered his deputy, Tatyana Golikova, to organize assistance to those injured, his spokesman Oleg Osipov said. (UNI)