bus sinai crash 298 ap.
(photo credit: AP)
At least 10 Israeli tourists were killed Tuesday afternoon when their bus overturned in al-Saada near Nuweiba in the Sinai peninsula, according to Egyptian police.
An Egyptian working for the tour company was also killed and more than 30 others were believed to be wounded, some critically. Altogether 45 Israelis, returning home to the Taba border from a seven-day organized tour, were on the bus from Sharm e-Sheikh, Nazareth-based Basel Tours told The Jerusalem Post.
The names of the dead had not been released by press time. The tourists, some of whom were children, came from Nazareth, Kafr Manda and Kafr Yasif.
Around 14 people were hospitalized in Sharm e-Sheikh, according to the Foreign Ministry, while the lightly injured were sent to Taba. By Tuesday night, 21 were being treated in Israeli facilities in Eilat.
Some 30 Magen David Adom ambulances and six intensive care units lined up during the day at the Taba border ready to enter Egypt to help the victims, while several helicopters were also available.
There were reports that the first Egyptian ambulance hadn't arrived on the scene until 45 minutes after the accident, and that hours later some passengers were still trapped in the wreckage.
Basel Tours urged the Egyptian authorities to let MDA enter, and MDA appealed to the Egyptian Red Crescent, via the International Red Cross, to allow their ambulances in.
The Foreign Ministry said, however, that the Egyptian authorities were being very helpful and that there was full contact between the two countries.
"There is no problem with the Egyptians. They are very nice to us and very cooperative," said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Ilana Ravid, who added that Israel hadn't requested that MDA ambulances enter Sinai.
Israel's consul in Egypt headed to the scene of the accident soon after it occurred.
The bus, part of a four-vehicle convoy, overturned while in transit. Several sources attributed the accident to a flat tire, but Egyptian authorities indicated they would be investigating the driver's performance as well. According to Basel Tours the bus was brand-new.
Ravid said Israel was convinced the incident was an accident that had no political connection.
"We are not talking about terrorism," she told the Post.
Despite several terror attacks that have killed Israelis, Sinai continues to attract thousands of Israeli tourists. They are also not deterred by the bad roads and many traffic accidents that have traditionally plagued Egypt. The destination is particularly popular with young travelers and Israeli Arabs.
AP contributed to this report.