A bus carrying Iranian environmental journalists has overturned in West Azerbaijan province, killing two people onboard and leaving several others fighting for their lives.

Mahshad Karimi, a reporter for the Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA), and Reyhaneh Yasini, a reporter with Islamic Republic of Iran News Agency (IRNA), were both killed in the crash.

The group had been on a visit to the Kani Sib water tunnel close to the city of Naqadeh when the disaster occurred. Amir Jafarzadeh, the head of the Iranian Red Crescent Society, said that most of the 31 passengers who had suffered injuries were journalists.

“The accident happened on the road from Piranshahr to Naghadeh,” he said. “Teams from the Red Crescent, emergency services and other organizations rushed to the scene and are still there. Of these 31 [casualties], 29 were injured and two died.”

A Red Crescent helicopter was also dispatched to the scene. Four to six people were in a grave condition, Jafarzadeh said, and would be air-lifted to hospital in Urmia, the capital of West Azerbaijan.

Javad Heydarian, an environmental reporter, took to Twitter to describe the incident. “As the environmental reporters injured in this accident can testify,” he said, “this bus was the lowest-quality they could have given to a 21-member team. The standards were so low, the reporters joked that they were afraid they wanted to kill them.

“Apparently they boarded the bus after walking through the Kani Sib water tunnel. Then, on the insistence of organizers up ahead, the driver was forced to go down a twisted road at high speed. A few minutes later the driver shouted at them to fasten their seatbelts – but it was too late.

“After several bumps that threw the bus to the left and right, the bus overturned on the left side of the road, and almost all the passengers were injured. My colleagues told me they were lucky that the bus had not fallen into the valley, otherwise they would have been all killed.”

The Young Journalists Club has also paid tribute to Karimi on its Telegram channel. “Mahshad Karimi left us with high hopes in her heart,” the outlet wrote. “She was due to wear a bridal gown soon.”

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