BISHKEK -- Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov has ordered the Foreign Ministry, Emergencies Ministry, and the country's airport administration to organize the expedited repatriation of 14 Kyrgyz citizens killed in a traffic accident in Russia’s Ulyanovsk region over the weekend.
Japarov's press service issued a statement on August 22 expressing condolences to relatives, friends, and colleagues of those killed in the August 21 traffic accident. A nationwide day of mourning has been set for August 23.
The Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry and Kyrgyz Embassy in Russia said 16 people, including 14 Kyrgyz nationals and two Russian citizens, died in the accident, while another three Kyrgyz citizens -- two men and one woman -- are in hospital in serious condition.
Video footage broadcast by the police showed the crumpled husk of what appeared to be a minibus sandwiched between two lorries and emergency service workers later inspecting the flattened vehicle.
Kubanychbek Erkinjan Uulu, a cousin of one of the men hospitalized, said that he and several other Kyrgyz migrant workers were in another vehicle returning from the Russian-Kazakh border when they witnessed the deadly accident.
"The minibus with our people was waiting behind a huge truck in a line of vehicles when another large vehicle rammed it from behind, literally crushing it into a pancake," Erkinjan Uulu told RFE/RL, adding that such trips are regular for migrant workers as they are required by Russian law to renew their work status by leaving and then reentering the country after a certain period of time.
"My cousin is now able to talk, but says he does not feel his legs," Erkinjan Uulu said.
The Russian Investigative Committee has launched a probe into the traffic accident.