Police: Driver caused Eilat bus crash


MOSCOW (JTA) — Israeli police placed blame on the driver of a bus that crashed and killed 24 Russians on a road in southern Israel. 

Edward Gelfand was driving his bus on a road just north of the resort town of Eilat at "an excess rate of speed," according to the report released this week. It also rejected earlier assertions that the driver had been racing another bus to a security checkpoint.

The bus rolled off a cliff on Dec. 16 as it was passing another bus on a winding mountain road. The 24 people killed were representatives of tourist agencies on a junket to preview the city’s amenities.

The police commission’s findings will be used in a trial against the driver.

The city of St. Petersburg in Russia has set aside $18,000 in its budget to compensate families of the victims, Gazeta.ru reported Wednesday. The compensation will favor those families who lost their main source of income in the crash.

There were fears that the bus crash would diminish Russian tourism to the town, but the conflict in Gaza overtook those concerns as it took its toll on what was expected to be a robust tourism season in southern Israel.

Despite that, Aeroflot – Russia’s largest airline – recently opened twice-weekly direct flights to Eilat. The Jerusalem Post reported that many of the flights have been only half-full.

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