TALLINN – The Estonian passenger bus whose driver was killed in a head-on collision with a truck near Ainazi in northern Latvia on Saturday evening was carrying members of the armed forces of Ukraine, Estonian officials said on Sunday evening.
"On the evening of November 26, a serious road accident took place near Ainazi in which the driver of a bus operating a charter for the Estonian defense forces died. The defense forces express their condolences to the loved ones of the bus driver," military spokespeople in Tallinn said.
"One member of the defense forces of Estonia was injured in the accident and was taken to a hospital for a check-up. The condition of that person is not life-threatening. The rest of the passengers injured in the accident are members of the Ukrainian armed forces, who have also been hospitalized. The Latvian police are working to find out the exact causes of the accident," the spokespeople said.
The Estonian defense forces will not disclose more details about the activities of the members of the Ukrainian armed forces in Estonia.
Latvian Defense Minister Artis Pabriks (Development/For) said in an interview with the Latvian public radio that the defense and interior sector will provide all necessary support to the victims of the accident.
"Had we known beforehand about such movement of the militaries, maybe we could have helped with a convoy," said Pabriks.
Latvian police informed BNS that a criminal investigation has been opened in connection with the accident. The police named bad weather as one of the possible reasons for the accident.
The Latvian Fire and Rescue Service previously said that the driver of the Estonian bus was killed and three people were hospitalized in serious condition, while another 23 people suffered less serious injuries.
The accident that happened at around 7:20 p.m. on Saturday on the Riga-Ainazi highway involved several vehicles, including a bus.
Ambulances were immediately sent to the scene, including seven ambulances from Estonia.
Those injured in the accident were taken to hospitals in Valmiera, Riga and Parnu.
The passenger bus involved in the tragic road accident was operated by Estonian company MK Autobuss. This was a charter bus.
The driver of the bus died at the scene, while the second driver was taken to hospital with a broken leg.
MK Autobuss representatives have informed, after what the second driver has said, that the collision took place after a truck in the opposite lane lost control of its vehicle and collided with the bus, which was due to the poor driving conditions on the road at the time.
According to the company, there were 48 persons on the bus at the time of the accident - 46 passengers and two drivers. The bus was on its way from Estonia to Poland.