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Bus driver arrested over crash into Games swimmers

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Was alcohol a contributing factor in the bus crash that left a 15-year-old athlete in an induced coma and another with a broken elbow?

Three Austrian synchronised swimmers were injured at the inaugural European Games in Azerbaijan on Thursday (June 11) - after a shuttle bus hit them on a pavement inside the Athletes’ Village, the Austrian Olympic Committee (OeOC) said.

ESPN reported that the bus driver Veli Ahmadov has been arrested. 

He is accused of breaching road rules, the Azerbaijani Interior Ministry said in a statement. 

A video of the horrific crash is circulating online

BBC said Azerbaijani media reports suggested alcohol might have played a part in the crash.

Seriously hurt

While organisers said they were looking into the allegations, there is currently no evidence to back the claims.

Synchronised swimmer Vanessa Sahinovic, 15, is “seriously hurt” with “multiple fractures” while Luna Pajer has an arm injury, the OeOC said in a statement.

A third athelte Verena Breit sustained bruising on her right leg.

Sahinovic and Pajer, whose arm needs further examination, were flown back to Vienna via air ambulance from Baku.Sahinovic has since undergone 10 hours of surgery. 

Breit was able to return to the Athletes' Village.

OeOC general secretary Peter Mennel said in a statement: 

“We are deeply shocked by the incident and (have) implemented all necessary immediate action.”

The games’ organising committee said in a statement that its “medical services responded to an incident this morning at the transport hub... which led to three Austrian athletes being immediately transported to hospital.”

The committee “places the safety and welfare of all athletes as its number one priority,” it said without giving further details into the incident.

Some 6,000 athletes from 50 countries are expected to compete from June 12-28 in 20 sports during the first edition of the games - billed as Europe’s answer to the Olympics and hosted by the ex-Soviet Caucasus republic of Azerbaijan.

Sources: AFP, BBC, The Times

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