At least 24 Russian tourists were killed Tuesday afternoon when their bus overturned and fell more than 150 feet into a dry riverbed between Eilat and Ovdah. Their plane from St. Petersburg, Russia had landed shortly before in Ovdah, and the crash occurred less than two miles north of Eilat.

The Israeli Air Force flew six helicopters to help rescue the survivors. At least 15 people suffered serious injuries, including several in critical condition, and approximately 10 others received lighter injuries. Doctors and nurses were flown from the Be'er Sheva area to help treat the wounded, who were transferred to Yoseftal Hospital in Eilat.

Alon Peretz, an official of the private company that owned the bus, said that the driver of one group of tourists had phoned to inform him of another driver's reckless driving. He said the other driver had passed his bus on a sharp curve and where there is a steep downgrade. In the middle of the conversation, the latter bus careened off the highway as the driver tried to return to the right lane.

Peretz said that he immediately called for ambulances when the driver informed him of the disaster.

More than 20 ambulances participated in the rescue operation.