Armenia’s government will compensate the families of nine Armenian nationals who died in last week’s bus crash in Russia, Transport and Communications Minister Gagik Beglarian said on Monday.
Beglarian said it will also bear their funeral expenses and pay financial compensations to dozens of other passengers of an Armenian coach injured in the November 3 accident on a highway about 200 kilometers south of Moscow.
“We will probably give the families of the victims more than 1 million drams each ($2,100), while the injured persons will get up to 1 million drams each,” he told reporters. He said the precise amount of the payouts will be determined by an ad hoc government commission that was formed by the government immediately after the crash.
The Chinese-made bus overturned for still unknown reasons as it headed to Yerevan early in the morning. Some Russian police officials have suggested that one of its two drivers, who was at the wheel at that moment, fell asleep.
Beglarian, who visited the site of the crash last week, spoke as the death toll from it rose from eight to nine. “Unfortunately, another body has been flown from Russia to Armenia today,” he said.
“Eleven people remain in hospitals there. One of them is in a very severe condition. It will be great if that person’s life is saved,” he added.
The minister dismissed suggestions that relevant authorities in Armenia bear responsibility for the loss of life because of their failure to put in place more stringent safety regulations for local bus companies. He argued that under the existing Armenian laws and regulations, such firms transporting people on a non-regular basis do not need to receive government licenses and undergo special technical inspections.
One of Beglarian’s deputies, Artur Arakelian, said late last week that the Ministry of Transport and Communications has drafted a bill that would toughen licensing requirements for bus owners.