x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Pupils in lucky escape in bus crash

One person airlifted to hospital after school bus slams into full-sized bus on Sheikh Zayed Road.

The collision between a school bus and a second bus caused traffic gridlock on Sheikh Zayed Road.
The collision between a school bus and a second bus caused traffic gridlock on Sheikh Zayed Road.

DUBAI // Thirty schoolchildren escaped serious injury when their vehicle slammed into a full-sized bus on Sheikh Zayed Road near Dubai Media City yesterday morning.

Officials said none of the pupils from Delhi Private School, Dubai were among the five people who were seriously hurt in the accident.

"Some children and a teacher had some minor bruises or cuts," said Rashmi Nandkeolyar, the school's principal, who added most of them continued their journey to school.

"They were a little shocked because of the noise of the glass shattering. We rang up each and every parent to assure them that the children were safe."

Dubai Police said the school bus ran into a bus belonging to a company in the Jebel Ali Free Zone, carrying 25 people, which had stopped on the southbound side of the road at 7.25am.

"The accident occurred after the company bus suffered a blowout on the front right side and stopped in the middle lane of the road," said Major Mohammed Khalfan of Dubai Police dispatch. "The sudden stop resulted in the school bus colliding straight into the bus."

A source said the children were mainly from Grades 1 and 2.

One person was taken by helicopter to the hospital, police said. A spokesman for Rashid Hospital said 15 people had been admitted.

"Nine of those who were admitted to the hospital were treated immediately and released," the spokesman said. "Among those nine were two children but their injuries were minor."

He said one patient was still under supervision, while five others had undergone surgery for broken bones.

The school bus driver was trapped at the wheel and had to be pulled out by rescue workers, police said.

"The rescue patrols liberated the driver who was stuck in the school bus, as well as five passengers in the company bus," said Brig Gen Anas al Matrooshi, the deputy director of operations at Dubai Police. "A heavy crane and mid-sized crane were used in the operation, as well as hydraulic cutters."

Other buses from the school travelling on the same route pulled up to help the children, teachers and staff.

"The primary school teacher who was there immediately transferred the children to the other buses," Ms Nandkeolyar said. "The police were also extremely helpful and efficient in moving the children to another bus."

The school bus driver suffered a broken leg and was taken to Rashid Hospital, from where he is expected to be discharged today. The bus attendant also suffered minor injuries.

Several passengers on the work bus suffered moderate or serious injuries, officials said. But even those who were unharmed said they were traumatised.

"I can still hear the screams of people in the bus," said Harisha Lakshmikant, 28, a shop supervisor with a company in Jebel Ali who was taken to hospital with a torn ligament. "We were all laughing when we started our journey at 6.30am. But an hour later, the bus was full of … people screaming and crying.

"I was unable to move and was sitting on the side of the road. We still don't know what happened to some of our friends who were sitting behind, as they faced the full impact of the collision."

Ernest Tellis, 60, a public relations officer, said: "Many of my friends were taken on stretchers. Some of them had breathing problems and needed oxygen cylinders.

"There were about five women in the bus and some of them were badly hurt. I was unharmed, except for some muscle pain.

"I have never witnessed such a serious accident."

The accident caused traffic chaos on Sheikh Zayed Road and the surrounding area until the wrecked vehicles and debris were removed two hours later.

 

pkannan@thenational.ae

* With additional reporting by Essam al Ghalib and Bana Qabbani