Three men in their 30s died and two others were injured after a private vehicle collided with a bus in the South Thursday morning.
The accident occurred on the southern stretch of Road 40 at the Lehavim junction, when a car carrying three passengers collided with an empty passenger bus, and a second car rammed into a sign pole, according to Magen David Adom spokesman Zaki Heller.
In security camera footage of the accident that later circulated in the media, the car appears to have run a red light prior to its collision with the bus.
MDA paramedics pronounced three of the passengers dead at the scene, and evacuated the 40-year-old driver of the first car and the 70-year-old driver of the car that hit the sign to Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba, Heller said. Israel Police identified the three men who were killed as Odeh Suleiman Masri, 37, Ismail Jedua Masri, 35, from Hebron, and Fares Alasawi, 33, from Lakiya.
The driver of the first car, who suffered multiple traumatic injuries, was in moderate to critical condition as of Thursday evening, Heller added.
“This was a serious accident – when we arrived there we saw a front side collision between a bus and a private jeep whose right side was crushed completely, and within the jeep four male passengers in their 30s were trapped, the driver conscious and suffering from multiple injuries and the three passengers unconscious, without a pulse, not breathing and suffering from severe injuries,” said MDA paramedic Omar Elmeccawi and senior medic Yossi Aboaron.
“After a lengthy rescue operation, we were forced to pronounce the deaths of the three passengers, and we provided medical treatment to the approximately 40-year-old car driver and evacuated him to the hospital,” the rescue workers added.
The driver of the second car, who crashed into the sign pole, was fully conscious and able to walk following the accident, according to the paramedics.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said there is an ongoing investigation into the accident.
In response to the fatal event, traffic safety NGO Or Yarok stressed that so far this year 149 people have been killed in road accidents compared to 108 during the same period last year. Since 2003, six people have been killed at Lehavim junction, while 22 were seriously injured and 159 lightly wounded – not including Thursday’s accident – the organization said.
“It is inconceivable that since the beginning of the year there has been a 40-percent increase in the number of fatalities from traffic accidents and the Transportation Ministry is silent,” said Or Yarok CEO Shmuel Aboav.
The Transportation Ministry declined to comment in response.