ANKARA, Turkey – ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — A bus carrying Russian tourists skidded off a highway in southern Turkey and fell off a bridge Tuesday, killing 15 people and injuring 26 others, officials said.
The bus broke through iron barriers, flipped over and fell about 20 feet (six meters) onto its roof in a river bed, NTV television footage showed. Rescue workers struggled to pull the bodies and injured from the wreckage, Deputy Gov. Mehmet Seyman of the Mediterranean province of Antalya said.
Thirteen Russian passengers, their Turkish tour guide and the bus driver were killed. It was not immediately clear how many people in total had been on board.
Officials earlier said 16 people were killed in the crash, but Tourism Minister Ertugrul Gunay revised the death toll down to 15, saying one seriously injured passenger was initially thought dead.
"We woke up as the bus flipped over," the state-run Anatolia news agency quoted one of the injured passengers, Lena Rasuleva, as saying. "I fell unconscious and opened my eyes in the hospital."
At least one baby and a toddler were among the injured, including Rasuleva's daughter, Diana, Anatolia reported.
The tourism minister, who visited the injured in hospital, said authorities were investigating whether the driver may have suffered a heart attack or fallen asleep while behind the wheel.
Each year, thousands of people are killed in traffic accidents on Turkey's roads because of careless driving or poor road conditions. Many of the roads consist of just two lanes, are badly lit and poorly patrolled by police.
Russia sent a plane to Antalya to retrieve some of the injured as well as the bodies, the state-run Anatolia news agency reported.
The bus had been traveling from the resort of Alanya, which is popular with Russian and German tourists, to the scenic Pamukkale waterfall near the central city of Denizli.
About 3 million Russian tourists visit Turkey annually. Earlier this month, Turkey and Russia agreed to mutually lift entry visa requirements for visits of up to 30 days in an effort to boost tourism and business.