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City in tears at funeral for 9 of the 10 children killed in Siberian bus tragedy

By The Siberian Times reporter
07 December 2016

Tributes to the dead and prayers for the 34 injured including 27 students, acrobats with a Nefteyugansk sports club.

Today 9 children were buried at the local graveyard in Nefteyugansk, a city now awash with grief. Picture: Oleg Bondarenko

More than 2,000 came to pay their respects to the victims of a crash which also saw the deaths of two loved and respected acrobatic coaches. Today 9 children were buried at the local graveyard in Nefteyugansk, a city now awash with grief. Eight of the dead children were girls. 

People stood in minus 20C cold outside the ‘Pearl of Yugra’ hotel where a mourning ceremony was held, waiting for a turn to come inside and bid farewell to nine of the ten dead children who were named as Zulfiya Ergashova, 15, Danil Prosvirkin, 14, Regina Dubenskaya, 13, Arina Smorodnikova, 12, Darya Kalashnik, 11, Valeria Sudyakova, 10, Viktoria Vakula, 12, Kira Slepenkova, 9, Maria Yakushina, 13, and Timofey Nekrushets, 8, the son of coach Oksana Nekrushets, who herself is fighting for her life in a 'grave' condition in hospital.

Mourning ceremony


Natalya Komarova


Mourning ceremony


Mourning ceremony


Mourning ceremony

People stood in minus 20C cold outside the ‘Pearl of Yugra’ hotel where a mourning ceremony was held, waiting for a turn to come inside and bid farewell to nine of the ten dead children. Pictures: Social media, Oleg Bondarenko, Andrey Zagumenov

Among the dead, too, were coaches Tatyana 'Tanya' Tikhonova, 25, and Irina Kimkina, 60, her mentor. The funeral was attended by governor of Khanty-Mansi region Natalia Komarova and Nefteyugansk mayor Sergey Degtyaryov. 

News site Life.ru reported: 'No-one is laughing or smiling in the city. Children that were cherished and treasured by the whole city gone forever. They were the pride and joy, everyone knew them as they always fought for the city at sport competition, bringing back gold and silver medals.'

Sasha, a boy who survived the crash, told Life.ru: 'This was the scariest moment of my life. 

Tatyana Tikhonova


Irina Kimakina

Among the dead, too, were coaches Tatyana 'Tanya' Tikhonova, 25, and Irina Kimkina, 60, her mentor. Pictures: The Siberian Times

'My friends, who survived the crash with me, were trying to keep the wounded ones alert from losing consciousness from pain and cold, and all around me were either children hitting others on their cheeks, or - and it was far scarier - children that stopped moving. It was dark, it was freezing cold. It was horrendous.'

He had sat at the back of the bus and when it crashed with a truck on a major highway, he clutched to his seat and was thrown out onto the road. He saw one of his friends, a girl, squashed to death between two seats. 

A psychologist who works with parents of the children who died in the crash said: 'It is so hard, and I've worked with other victims of various other catastrophes.

'Parents still can't grasp it that their children are gone. One of the mothers lost consciousness three times as we spoke. One of the families just locked themselves inside a hotel room and we can't do anything to take them outside.'

Danil and Zulfiya


Darya Kalashnik


Arina

Zulfiya Ergashova, 15 poses together with Danil Prosvirkin, 14. Darya Kalashnik, 11. Arina Smorodnikova, 12. 

An elderly woman called Lyubov, praying at church, said: 'I can't sleep for several days. I am thinking about these innocent children, trying to rescue each other in complete darkness in a freezing cold.'

Nine children remain in intensive care. Elena, a classmate of coach Tatyana Tikhonova, said: 'Tanya was very open, very friendly. There were no-one in our class who did not love her. We finished college seven years ago, but we all remember only good things about her.' 

After college she moved to Naberezhnye Chelny for university studies. In 2014 she came back to Nefteyugansk to work as a coach. She was like a rock, very reliable, with strong principles. At the same time she was like a mother for her students,' said a colleague. 

Irina, meanwhile, was a mother of three who had trained more than 50 masters of sport. 

Timofey


Oksana Nekrushets

Timofey Nekrushets, 8, and his mother Oksana Nekrushets, who herself is fighting for her life in a 'grave' condition in hospital. Pictures: The Siberian Times

Friend Galina said: 'Irina came here from Kazakhstan when she got married. First she worked as a teacher at a school, then as a coach. In 1996 she was recognized as the best coach in Khanty-Mansy Autonomous region. 

'Her students spent more time with her than with parents. She tried to teach them not to be afraid, not to give up, not to retreat. She raised three daughters, and all got into sport.'

One of the injured Maria Zubareva, 17, said: 'I had my belt on and was almost asleep. I woke up after some blow. We began to got out the bus and help our mates... After the crash the bus was badly damaged. 

Kira


Regina


Viktoria

Kira Slepenkova, 9. Regina Dubenskaya, 13. Viktoria Vakula, 12. 

'We helped to take away from the bus those who survived, tried to cover them, to find out who is where... Hands became cold very fast, so we asked drivers in cars passing by to warm them.'

Sofia Borovskaya and Stepan Aldonin, both 16, were both 'seriously injured'. Stepan's brother wrote: 'Stepan is in a serious condition, constantly under the supervision of a doctor. He is in an induced coma, they do not allow him to breath by himself... after two or three days we will know what to do next. All are waiting and praying.'

Social media is full of messages praying for the injured to recover. Fighting for life, too, is Gavkhar Ergashova, sister of perished Zulfiya, 16.

A video of the final performance of Zulfiya and Gavkhar Ergashova, and Daria Kalashnik, has been released: only Gavkhar has survived. Some 19, mostly children, are in hospital.

Maria


Gavkhar


Sofya


Stepan

Maria Zubareva, 17, helped to take away from the bus those who survived. Gavkhar Ergashova, sister of perished Zulfiya, 16, fights for her life in hospital. Sofia Borovskaya and Stepan Aldonin, both 16, were both 'seriously injured'. Pictures: The Siberian Times

The appalling bus crash came as the group were heading to Nefteyugansk from a competition in regional capital Khanty-Mansiysk. The bus carrying the children was in a head-on collision with a truck. 

Bus driver Marat Zaynullin and the driver of the truck Rail Saitkhanov, as well as an entrepreneur who organised the transportation of children, were detained. 

Initial reports put the blame on the bus driver, claiming he lost control, but this is now being reassessed. There were claims that cargo on the bus was sticking out, and hit the bus.

Map


Crash


Crash

The appalling bus crash came as the group were heading to Nefteyugansk from a competition in regional capital Khanty-Mansiysk. Pictures: The Siberian Times, Social media

Prime minister Dmitry Medvedev said: 'An investigation is underway and regardless of its outcome, proposals have been voiced on changing legislation - including general rules of road traffic and the rules on the transportation of children and the criminal responsibility.'

President Vladimir Putin's spokesman said: 'The regulations on transporting kids are strict enough, however, they need to be obeyed.'

Families of those who died in the accident will receive a compensation of 1 million roubles. Relatives of victims with severe injuries will get 300,000 roubles. Relatives of victims who received minor injuries are to be paid 100,000 roubles.

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