Ukrainian Bus Crash Kills 14 Russian Pilgrims

14 people have died and 29 have sustained injuries after an early morning accident in Ukraine involving a tour bus.

The modern Scania tour bus was carrying religious Russian tourists on a pilgrimage trip to a monastery in the western Ukrainian town of Pochaev. The accident occurred on the trunk route between the Belorussian border town of Yarilovichi and the northern Ukrainian city of Chernigov.

The coach was destined to travel to the capital Kiev and further to the western town of Pochaev. There were 41 passengers and two drivers.

Having travelled a considerable distance from the Russian city of Velikie Luki through the territory of Belarus, the coach left the road shortly after entering Ukraine at 5:30 am and turned over in a ditch.

Eyewitnesses say the coach drifted across the central white lines of the road onto the oncoming carriageway before veering onto the grass verge and overturning.

Most of the dead were ejected from the vehicle and were crushed by the weight of the coach which came to rest on its side. Rescue workers were able to set the vehicle back on its wheels and support it with wooden stays but the ejected passengers were unable to be saved.

The cause of the accident is still being investigated but it is believed that the fatigued driver fell asleep behind the wheel despite the vehicle being dual-crewed.

Despite the coach being of recent manufacture and fitted with seat belts, few if any of the passengers were restrained at the time of the accident.

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