2 killed, 7 hurt as bus plunges into ravine in West Bank
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IDF helicopters used to lift wounded out of ravine

2 killed, 7 hurt as bus plunges into ravine in West Bank

Driver among the dead when Egged vehicle falls 70 meters; darkness, rain and difficult terrain hamper rescue

Israeli rescue and security forces at the scene where a bus fell down a ravine on a road near Ma'ale Levonah, in the West Bank, on January 27, 2017. (Moshe Mizrachi/Flash90)
Israeli rescue and security forces at the scene where a bus fell down a ravine on a road near Ma'ale Levonah, in the West Bank, on January 27, 2017. (Moshe Mizrachi/Flash90)

A bus belonging to Israeli transport company Egged plunged 70 meters (230 feet) down a ravine in stormy weather in the northern West Bank in the early hours of Friday morning, killing at least two people and injuring seven others, four of them seriously, rescue workers said.

The bus was traveling on Route 60 near the settlement of Ma’ale Levonah when it went off the road at about 1 a.m., according to the Magen David Adom rescue service.

Two men, aged 23 and 37, were killed. Four were seriously wounded, two were in a moderate condition and one person was lightly hurt, Magen David Adom said.

The 37-year-old man was named in the Hebrew-language media as bus driver Avishai Kroani, a father of five from the settlement of Ariel. He was to be laid to rest at 1 p.m. Friday at the cemetery in Ariel, Channel 2 reported.

MDA spokesman Zaki Heller said the rescue was conducted together with IDF forces and was hampered by the darkness, difficult terrain and stormy weather. IDF helicopters had to be used to lift the wounded out of the ravine to waiting ambulances on the road above.

Israeli rescue forces and security forces at the scene where a bus flipped over, at a road near Ma'ale Levona, in the West Bank, on January 27, 2017. at least two people killed (Moshe Mizrachi/Flash90)
Israeli rescue and security forces at the scene where a bus flipped over, at a road near Ma’ale Levonah, in the West Bank, on January 27, 2017. (Moshe Mizrachi/Flash90)

Rescue workers described the difficulty in climbing down to reach the crash site.

Israeli rescue forces and security forces at the scene of a fatal bus accident near Ma'aleh Levona, in the West Bank, on January 27, 2017. (Photo by Moshe Mizrachi/Flash90)
Israeli rescue forces and security forces at the scene of a fatal bus accident near Ma’aleh Levona, in the West Bank, on January 27, 2017. (Photo by Moshe Mizrachi/Flash90)

“We had to walk for 10 minutes in the rain and mud until we reached the bus. We requested helicopters to help evacuate the injured,” said Michael Chai Cohen, a volunteer from the United Hatzalah rescue service. “Unfortunately, upon arrival, we found several victims who were unconscious and without a pulse. Others sustained varying degrees of injuries.”

Israel Radio said the bus was a special armored bus used in the West Bank by the Egged bus company. Rescue teams were trying to lift the overturned bus to make sure no other victims were trapped beneath.

Rescue workers declared the crash a “mass casualty event,” and dozens of ambulances, volunteers and medics were called in from all over the region.

“United Hatzalah first responders who arrived at the scene have requested that lighting be brought, as well as search and rescue crews, fire rescue crews and helicopters be dispatched in order to help reach those on the bus,” said Menachem Leff, of the United Hatzalah rescue service, who called the incident “extreme.”

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