At least 16 people drowned today after being trapped in a bus which plunged off a pier in southern Russia.
Some 24 have been rescued or swam ashore on the Black Sea, but there were fears that the vehicle was overloaded with oil construction workers and that the toll may rise.
There were unconfirmed claims that between 38 and 60 people were in the bus when it sank at a depth of around 35 ft.
There are fears that the vehicle was overloaded with oil construction workers and that the death toll may rise
Some people managed to escape before the runaway bus went off the edge of the pier, say eyewitnesses
A survivor has claimed that the bus was out of control before plunging into the ocean.
‘When we drove down to the pier, something cracked,’ he said. ‘There was one crack and the bus suddenly accelerated.
‘For some reason, it turned towards a pier that was under construction. The driver kept silent. When we were careering along the pier, we began to smash windows and doors to get out.’
Some people managed to escape before the runaway bus went off the edge of the pier, say eyewitnesses.
At least 16 people were killed in today’s tragedy, and divers are searching for survivors
An official for Krasnodar region said rescuers were doing ‘everything in their power’ to save lives
Divers are searching for more survivors in the murky waters following the fatal bus crash
Some accounts say the breaks malfunctioned, and the driver sought and failed to use the gears to halt the bus.
‘Sixteen people died, 24 were rescued, eight of them were hospitalised,’ said an emergencies’ spokesperson.
Official Alexander Cherkasov, from TamanNefteGas, told RBC news agency that he knows people who were on board of the bus that crashed into the Kerch strait.
‘A friend of mine was there. He managed to survive, but he is in grave condition now’, he said.
It is not known what caused the bus to crash into the Black Sea, with at least 16 people confirmed dead
A desperate rescue operation was launched in a bid to save lives after more than 20 swam ashore
An official for the Krasnodar region said rescuers were doing ‘everything in their power’ to save lives.
An eyewitness said: ‘The bus fell from the end of the pier. It was a big vehicle with dozens inside.
‘Some minutes after the fall some people managed to swim out but others probably fainted and could not swim. The divers reacted quickly.’
Divers are searching for others in the murky waters.
One local said: ‘About 10 jumped out when it was falling, but others ended in the water.
‘The depth of the sea is about 10 meters there.’
The Russian Investigative Committee – seen as an equivalent of the FBI – launched a criminal case into a suspected traffic violation that led to the deadly incident in Volna on the coast of Kerch Strait.
An emergency service source disclosed earlier that the bus was transporting shift workers involved in the construction of a dock for the Tamanneftegas energy company.
Divers are working at the scene of the accident, where the bus plunged four metres before hitting the water, a source told RIA-Novosti news agency, saying it was likely caused by a traffic violation.
The injured were transported by helicopter to local hospitals.