Crash victim recalls: 'Someone shouted, then the bus flipped'

Despite being aboard the ill-fated bus that crashed into a desert ravine in southern Israel, killing around half of its passengers, Chinegoa was one of the lucky ones. She was one of the only surviving passengers, all tourists from St. Petersburg, not to require prolonged hospitalization, though her face was heavily bruised and her hand was in a cast, slung around her shoulder. Chinegoa, who preferred not to give her last name, appeared calm as she stood in the lobby of Tel Aviv's Marina Hotel on Wednesday, together with several worried family members of the injured who are still hospitalized, and Russian Embassy staff who were busy making arrangements for them. Through a Russian Embassy official who translated her words into Hebrew, Chinegoa told The Jerusalem Post how an ordinary bus journey turned into a nightmare within seconds. After landing at Ovda Airport from Russia, Chinegoa boarded the bus and settled in for the ride to her hotel in Eilat. "I didn't see everything, I was sitting in the back of the bus. Suddenly someone shouted, and then the bus began scraping the low [road] fence," she recounted. "We rolled over twice. People came immediately to help us. I don't know who they were," she added. Chinegoa was then rushed to a hospital in an ambulance, only to discover that she was one of the few who could be discharged after quick treatment. "The medical treatment we received was the best. This was simply an accident," she said. "I may come back to Israel, but I don't know if I'll return to Eilat," she added with a wary smile. After being told about the debate raging within the police on whether the accident was caused by competitive and dangerous driving between her bus driver and a second bus driver, Chinegoa said she did not remember such a situation. "I'm not a hundred percent sure, but I think I saw another bus," she said. Next to her stood Svetlana, the sister of a woman moderately injured in the crash. After seeing images on Russian TV of the bus crash, she knew immediately that her sister, who was on holiday in Eilat, was involved. Within hours, she was aboard a flight specially arranged by the Russian Foreign Ministry, and soon afterwards she was at her sister's bedside. "My sister is in shock," Svetlana said. "After the bus went off the road, she began crying. She doesn't remember much more that."