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Video: Teen athletes mowed down by bus at European Games

Published 14/06/2015

A bus driver has been arrested after his vehicle crashed into three 15-year-old Austrian swimmers at the European Games in Azerbaijan, leaving one seriously injured.

Veli Ahmadov is accused of a breach of road rules over the incident in the capital, Baku, and a criminal case has been opened against him, the Azerbaijani Interior Ministry and prosecutors said in a joint statement.

The statement said Ahmadov was the driver of a bus which struck three members of Austria's synchronised swimming team in the athletes' village on Thursday morning.

One of the athletes, Vanessa Sahinovic, suffered severe spinal injuries after being hit by the vehicle, which veered on to the pavement.

Her teammate, Luna Pajer, had a broken elbow, while the third girl, Verena Breit, escaped with bruises. Sahinovic and Pajer were flown home to Austria for treatment.

Azerbaijani authorities also said that the company which employed Ahmadov - Bakubus - could face legal action for possibly breaching rules on employing qualified drivers.

Earlier today, European Games organisers said they would look into allegations that some village staff had been drunk on duty.

Reports in Azerbaijani media suggested alcohol may have been a factor in the bus crash and that some staff at the village had been drinking on site.

The organising committee's chief operating officer Simon Clegg said claims of drunkenness were "a very serious suggestion" and would be "investigated immediately".

However, there was no evidence to link the claims to the bus incident, he added.

"There is absolutely nothing to suggest at this moment in time that alcohol played any part in the tragic incident," he said.

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