AL AIN // An Emirati community is in mourning for seven members of the same family killed in an horrific car crash in Oman.
Col Saif Abdullah Al Hajj Al Kaabi, a retired military engineer, his sons Mohammed and Ahmed and daughters Fatima, Afra, Hamda and Sara died in the crash in Mughaisil on Monday afternoon.
A father and his baby son from Oman were also killed.
Col Saif's wife Mariam was rushed to Sultan Qaboos Hospital with serious injuries, and later airlifted to Sheikh Khalifa Medical City in Abu Dhabi, where a relative said late last night her condition was improving.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and Skeikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, the Crown Prince of Dubai offered their condolences to the Al Kaabi family.
The family had been travelling in two cars from their home town of Al Foah in Al Ain for a family holiday in Salalah. As Col Saif, driving the vehicle in front, turned into Mousel Road in Mughaisil, his car was hit by a lorry.
It dragged the car several hundred metres before spinning it into oncoming traffic, where it collided with a Land Cruiser. A 35-year-old Omani man and his 18-month-old son in the oncoming vehicle were killed instantly. Col Saif and his children died at the scene.
The family's eldest son Humaid and second-youngest Abdullah, travelling in the second car, were unhurt. It was revealed today that minutes before the crash Abdullah had switched places with his brother Mohammed, an Etihad Airways pilot.
Two of the Al Kaabi daughters were engaged to be married, one in a few weeks' time.
This morning the President, Sheikh Khalifa, ordered two planes to be sent to Oman to bring back the remains of the six children and their father.
Humaid and Abdullah and Col Saif's older and younger brothers Salim and Rashid led a funeral procession of more than 100 men to Al Foah Cemetery in Al Ain this afternoon.
The mood was sombre and the crowd was quiet in prayers of supplication as the bodies of the Al Kaabi siblings and their father were lowered into the ground, shrouded in white linen in accordance with Islamic tradition.
Salim and Rashid led much of the burial ritual, placing soil into the graves while reciting the Quranic verse: "We created you from it, and return you into it, and from it we will raise you a second time."
Humaid and Abdullah were visibly distraught – several times, one of the brothers had to be escorted away from the gravesides to compose himself before returning.
Col Saif's nephew, Mohammed Rashid Al Kaabi, said the family of 10 had recently managed to get everyone together in the same place – something difficult to achieve for such a big household.
"Just a few days ago they were all together in one house for Eid Al Fitr and they decided to take a photograph of the family together," he said.
"Now, that is the last picture that they have."
Nasser Al Neyadi, a resident of Al Foah, said: "This is really very tragic, no one could ever imagine anything like this happening to our small community. Many of us are still in shock, but in the end this is God's will."
"I didn't know Saif personally," said the 45-year-old government employee, "but I know the Al Hajj Family: they are a very well respected members of the community.
"All we can do is pray for their souls, pray for the mother whose life is now in God's hands and pray for God to ease the suffering of the family and give them patience."
* With additional reporting by Salam Al Amir and Manal Ismail
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