At least five people were killed and close to 50 were injured in a serious crash between a bus and multiple vehicles on Route 89 in the Upper Galilee, near the town of Hurfeish, on Wednesday afternoon.
The Magen David Adom ambulance service said that four people inside one of the cars were pronounced dead at the scene, including a 35-year-old woman and her three children aged 15, 11 and 5. The woman was later identified as Moran Ben-Eli from Ma’alot-Tarshiha, who was killed along with her sons Dekel and Liam and her daughter Annael. Their father, Reuven, who was also in the car, is hospitalized in serious condition.
A fifth individual, a 76-year-old man who was found crushed underneath the bus, was also pronounced dead shortly afterward. He was later identified as Asher Basson, 76, the driver of the bus and a resident of Kiryat Yam.
MDA said three people involved in the accident were seriously injured and transported to a hospital and another 45 were lightly hurt. Two of the three in serious condition are children ages 11 and 13, the MDA spokesman told Army Radio.
According to preliminary investigations of the accident, the bus swerved out of its lane, hitting the cab and a van before flipping onto its side, according to Hebrew media reports on Wednesday night.
As of Wednesday evening, one person in serious condition was hospitalized at the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, while two people in serious condition, one in moderate condition and 17 lightly injured were hospitalized at the Ziv Medical Center in Safed. Another person in moderate condition and 26 lightly injured had been brought to the Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya.
The Bnei Akiva youth movement said the bus was carrying children and teenagers who were returning home from a day trip. Seventeen of the children on the bus hailed from the West Bank settlement of Mevo Dotan, said settler leaders.
“The incident involves a bus that is flipped over on its side as well as a large van and a private car,” said United Hatzalah volunteer EMT and head of the Ma’alot Region Oshri Eliyahu.
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“So far our volunteers have treated upwards of 20 people injured who are conscious,” he said shortly after the accident. “There are other injured who are unconscious as well as those who are still trapped that we haven’t been able to reach yet. Firefighters are currently working to extricate them from the wreckage.”
United Hatzalah said it had dispatched its Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit to the scene of the accident to provide emotional and psychological support to those on site.
The IDF dispatched medical workers as well as Israel Air Force helicopters to assist in the extraction and transport of the wounded, the military said in a statement.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who landed back in Israel Wednesday evening after a trip to the United States, said he was devastated to hear of the tragic accident, and “sends condolences and a warm embrace to the families of those killed during this difficult time.”
Bennett requested that the Israeli public “be extremely careful about cautious road travel.”