Forty ambulances raced into the desert in southern Israel, after a bus carrying Russian tourists plunged 80 meters into a desert ravine, killing 23 people. White body bags were lined up in a row and baggage and wreckage were scattered over the steep slope down from the highway. The wrecked bus lay on its side.
Police, soldiers and emergency workers sought to evacuate the injured, but rescue efforts were hindered by the rough terrain. Six air force helicopters and ambulances ferried the injured to the nearby Red Sea resort of Eilat.
Eilat is a small city and Yosef Tal hospital was overwhelmed.
"Of course, a hospital like Yosef Tal is small, and does not have the same experience of say the major city hospitals that have been dealing with terror attacks," said Israeli trauma doctor Joe Djemal.
Many of the injured are in critical condition.
"In this case you have 36 injured people in your emergency room, and you are talking about a lot of very serious conditions, a lot of blood loss and everything else," Djemal said. "And once they have stabilized the patients, then they are being flown out to other hospitals."
Police have ruled out terrorism. One witness said the bus driver sped by him in a no passing zone, lost control and crashed through a guard rail into the ravine.
The tourists had just arrived on a flight from St. Petersburg.