One Israeli dies, 13 wounded in minibus crash in Georgia

Seven injured Israelis expected to arrive back in Israel on special plane arranged by Georgian president.

July 10, 2011 18:13
2 minute read.
Georgia view

Georgia view_311. (photo credit: Polscience)

One Israeli woman was killed and 13 were injured on Sunday in a head-on-collision involving their minibus and a truck in northern Georgia, about 250 kilometers north of the capital Tbilisi.

The woman was identified as Behira Nuama, 58, from Kiryat Ata. She was traveling with her husband, Menashe, and six other couples from Israel in the minibus and an Israeli guide.

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Nuama died at the scene of the accident near the city of Kutaisi and will be buried in Israel on Monday.

The middle-aged couples are all close friends from Haifa’s bayside suburbs, and have traveled together abroad on numerous occasions.

Seven of the injured Israeli tourists were expected to arrive back in Israel for medical treatment on Sunday evening on a special plane arranged by Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, with the others – whose medical conditions were better – expected to follow the next day.

Two of the injured were in serious condition, seven suffered moderate injuries, and the rest suffered light injuries.

The embassy in Tbilisi was in touch with Georgian emergency teams during the day, and the Foreign Ministry was in contact with the tourists’ families in Israel.

Georgian Ambassador to Israel Vakhtang Jaoshvili said that he was notified of the crash early on Sunday morning and immediately “was in contact with all of the relevant people in Georgia and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Israel.”

The ambassador said the emergency treatment undertaken in Georgia was “quick and professional,” the victims were evacuated to hospitals almost immediately and that collaboration and lines of communication between Israeli and Georgian officials worked superbly.

Jaoshvili said that Saakashvili’s decision to cover all of the expenses for the Israelis’ treatment in Georgia and their emergency flight to Israel was an out-of-the-ordinary sort of gesture that was taken “absolutely because of the special relationship between Georgia and Israel.”

The ambassador said as far as he knows, none of the Israeli victims is of Georgian descent.

When asked if such accidents are common in Georgia and if road touring is a safe option for Israeli travelers, he said, “Unfortunately, such accidents can happen in any country.”

He added that Georgia “is known as a safe place for Israeli tourists. The Jews have been living in Georgia for 26 centuries and there has never been an incident between the Jewish people and the Georgians.”

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