Ukrainian troops were on bus that crashed in northern Latvia

The Estonian passenger bus whose driver was killed in a head-on collision with a truck near Ainaži in northern Latvia on Saturday evening was carrying members of the armed forces of Ukraine, Estonian officials said on Sunday evening, the LETA newswire reports.

"On the evening of November 26, a serious road accident took place near Ainaži 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 Latvian Radio that the defense and interior sector will provide all necessary support to the victims of the accident, but that Latvia had not been informed about the movement of Ukrainian troops across its territory.

"Had we known beforehand about such movement of military, maybe we could have helped with a convoy escort," said Pabriks. 

Police are probing the exact circumstaces of 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. Those injured in the accident were taken to hospitals in Valmiera, Rīga and Parnu.

The passenger bus involved in the tragic road accident was operated by Estonian company MK Autobuss and had been chartered. 

The driver of the bus died at the scene, while the second driver was taken to hospital with a broken leg. 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.

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