Russian tour bus falls off bridge and crashes in southern Turkey, killing 16 people on board

By Suzan Fraser, AP
Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Russian tour bus crashes in Turkey, 16 killed

ANKARA, Turkey — A bus carrying Russian tourists skidded off a highway in southern Turkey and fell off a bridge Tuesday, killing 16 people and injuring 25 others, officials said.

The bus broke through iron barriers, flipped over and fell about 20 feet (six meters) onto its roof in a river bed, NTV television footage showed. Rescue workers struggled to pull the bodies and injured from the wreckage, Deputy Gov. Mehmet Seyman of the Mediterranean province of Antalya said.

Fourteen Russian passengers, their Turkish tour guide and the bus driver were killed. It was not immediately clear how many people in total had been on board.

“We woke up as the bus flipped over,” the state-run Anatolia news agency quoted one of the injured passengers, Lena Rasuleva, as saying. “I fell unconscious and opened my eyes in the hospital.”

At least one baby and a toddler were among the injured, including Rasuleva’s daughter, Diana, Anatolia reported.

NTV television, citing local authorities, said the driver was sleeping at the wheel.

Each year, thousands of people are killed in traffic accidents on Turkey’s roads because of careless driving or poor road conditions. Many of the roads consist of just two lanes, are badly lit and poorly patrolled by police.

The bus was traveling from the resort of Alanya, which is popular with Russian and German tourists, to the scenic Pamukkale waterfall near the central city of Denizli.

About 3 million Russian tourists visit Turkey annually. Earlier this month, Turkey and Russia agreed to mutually lift entry visa requirements for visits of up to 30 days in an effort to boost tourism and business.

will not be displayed