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Horrific Video Amplifies Bus Tragedy At Baku's European Games


A terrifying video clip has emerged of a bus ramming into a group of teenage Austrian competitors at the European Games in Azerbaijan in an incident that has left Austrians reeling and overshadowed the start of the sporting extravaganza.

The synchronized swimmers, all 15 years old, were walking on the pavement in the athletes' village on June 11 when a shuttle bus rammed into them, dragging several of them underneath.

The grisly collision was captured on camera.

The incident came on the eve of the opening ceremonies of the first-ever European Games, touted as Europe's answer to continental events like the Pan-American Games and the Asian Games.

It deals a blow to Azerbaijan's efforts to burnish its image, tarnished by accusations of corruption and human rights abuses.

Online access to the video was blocked or removed from many sites in Azerbaijan, but the footage could still be viewed on YouTube.

Austrian Olympic Committee Secretary General Peter Mennel said, "We are shocked by this incident and have taken all necessary measures."

Baku authorities are now conducting an investigation into the crash, in which Vanessa Sahinovic sustained serious injuries and Luna Pajer sustained an arm injury. Both were flown back to Vienna for treatment. Verena Breit was released with a minor trauma to her thigh and has returned to the team quarters.

"Vanessa Sahinovic is unfortunately seriously injured, she suffered multiple injuries with several fractures," Austrian team doctor Alfred Engel said in a statement.​

The Austrian Olympic Committee (AOC) said the disaster had hit the team hard.

"It's a very, very sad day," said AOC President Karl Stoss. "It's a tough day for the team. Sporting motives and goals are not important at this moment."

Engel said it was "very hard" keeping the team motivated.

The incident drew an outpouring of sympathy for the athletes in the German-speaking press.

"A horror accident ripped their Olympic dreams away from them," wrote the German Abendzeitung newspaper.

The sporting extravaganza will run until June 28 and will feature 20 sports, 16 of which will be included in next year's Olympic Games.

Some 6,000 athletes from 50 countries are expected to compete.

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