Death toll in south Israel tourist bus crash at 23 - paramedics

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The death toll in a tourist bus crash in southern Israel has been put at 23, a spokesman for local paramedics said on Tuesday.
TEL AVIV, December 16 (RIA Novosti) - The death toll in a tourist bus crash in southern Israel has been put at 23, a spokesman for local paramedics said on Tuesday.

Media reports earlier said that 24 people were killed and some 45 were injured after a bus plunged down a ravine near the Red Sea resort city of Eilat.

A Russian Embassy in Israel representative said that the people involved in the crash were from Russia's second largest city of St. Petersburg.

"The bus which crashed in Israel was transporting charter passengers from a St. Petersburg flight," the embassy said.

A spokeswoman for the Russian Union of Tourism Industry said that all the passengers were representatives of St. Petersburg travel agencies.

"The trip was organized by Israel for Russian travel agents so that they could find out where they were sending Russian tourists. This bus was carrying 50 people and they were all staff members from five St. Petersburg travel agencies," Irina Tyrina said.

However, a spokesman for Israeli paramedics said that there were 49 Russians and two Israelis on board the bus.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has expressed his condolences to the families and relatives of those killed in the accident, and has also ordered the Russian Foreign Ministry and the Russian Embassy in Israel to render any assistance necessary to those affected.

The Russian Ministry for Emergency Situations is to provide two overnight planes to take the relatives of those injured and killed in the accident as well as medical equipment and personnel to Israel.

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