x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Bus crash wipes out half company's workforce

Five dead and six injured after work minibus leaves the road in Dibba.

FUJAIRAH // The Sunline General Contracting labour camp used to house 22 men, but a minibus crash that killed five of colleagues and hospitalised six yesterday has left the camp in an eery silence.

Fujairah Police said the accident happened at about 6.40am yesterday, when a tyre on their 14-seater Toyota mini-bus burst. The vehicle skidded off the Dibba-Taween road near the Al Taween police station, crashed into and over the railing and down an embankment before landing on its roof.

Eleven Sunline employees were in the bus, travelling to a housing project in Al Taween. None of them survived the crash unscathed.

"We are totally devastated," said Atiq-Ur Rahman, a Bangladeshi worker who was not on the bus yesterday. "The men were with us till last night and even spoke to us when they were going to  work this morning. It's unbelievable that they are no more."

He said that he was supposed to have travelled in the same bus but could not go because of other work obligations. "I feel lucky to have not gotten into the bus, otherwise I too would have been in the hospital with injuries or dead by now," he said.

Humanyun Mia, 30, Mousa Mia, 29, Javed Mohammed Ali, 26, Mohammed Hashim, 45, all from Bangladesh, and Lal Chand, 45, from India, died in the crash. The other six men, including the driver, were taken to Dibba Hospital for treatment.

Two of the men were in a serious condition last night, according to Dr Mohammed Abdullah, the director of Fujairah Medical District. They are being treated for a head trauma and ruptured liver respectively.

One of the less seriously injured workers from Bangladesh, who gave his name as Badshah, recounted how the bus had overturned after hitting the railings. "We were all screaming for our lives," he said. "My head and shoulder were hurt, but I feel lucky to survive."

Khamis Mohammed, the owner of Sunline, said he would visit embassies on Sunday to begin the process of repatriating the bodies of the five who died. He would also provide any compensation owed to families, he said.

"I will give them what they deserve, according to the law," he said. "This is the first time this happened. I don't know the rules. "

The 11 workers not on the bus might return to work next week, but it depended how they felt, he said.

A source at the Fujairah Police station said there would be no criminal charges in the case as it was "clearly an accident".

Yesterday, the remaining labourers from Sunline travelled to Dibba Hospital to visit their injured colleagues.

"We were living like a family: sharing our problems and difficulties at the camp," said another worker, Dhyan Chand. "We are praying to God that all the injured men recover fast and come back to the camp. It will take a long time for us to forget this incident."

frahman@thenational.ae

- Additional reporting by Amna Al Haddad and Carol Huang