TALLINN's No one was injured when the official car of Estonia's Defense Minister Jaak Aaviksoo with the minister in the back seat hit a bear on the Tallinn-Tartu road 109 kilometers fromTallinnthis morning.
The accident took place at 8:40 a.m. when the driver taking the minister from Tartu to the town of Paide and was unable to avoid hitting a large bear that had suddenly run onto the road near the Imavere road crossing.
"Aaviksoo was in the back seat of the Audi A6 at the time of the accident, had his seat belt fastened and was reading a book," said Riina Vandre, adviser to the minister.
The bear managed to cross the road to the other side after the accident but had to be shot later by hunters called to the scene.
The front of the minister's car was damaged and needs repair.
Vandre said Aaviksoo was on his way to meet with JarvaCounty governor Ullar Vahtramae when the accident happened.
Peep Mannil, unit head at the Ministry of Environment, said road accidents involving bears were rare in Estonia.
"We have two or three bears on the average hit by a vehicle annually. In recent years accidents like this have become more frequent because the number of bears has grown," he said.
According to local law, wild animals killed in accidents belong to the local hunting society.