x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Speeding drivers in 32-car pile-up

Sixteen people were hurt in a massive pile-up in the fog in Dubai, officials say.

A scene following a 32 car-pile up on the Dubai Bypass road.
A scene following a 32 car-pile up on the Dubai Bypass road.

DUBAI // Police used Twitter to broadcast basic safety rules for driving in fog yesterday when speeding drivers caused a 32-car pile-up.

Sixteen people were hurt, two cars were gutted by fire and 10 others were severely damaged when vehicles ploughed into each other at up to 120kph in 10-metre visibility on the Dubai Bypass Road just before the Al Ain highway interchange.

Dubai Police traffic department's dispatch centre began receiving calls about the crash at 7.15am. A witness described the scene as horrific.

Mohammed Mujahed Mursi, 30, an Egyptian magazine distribution manager who suffered moderate injuries, said visibility was down to 10 metres on that stretch of road yesterday morning.

"I was driving slowly with my flashers on when I saw a car and truck on fire up ahead," he said.

"I immediately stopped, but just when I started thinking that maybe someone could hit me from the back, I was hit.

"The driver who hit me must have been driving at 120kph or more. How can someone drive so fast when he can't see in front of him?"

Mr Mursi suffered bruised ribs from his vehicle's airbag, and the force of the collision wrenched his back.

"I don't know what I could have done except maybe pull over off the highway until the fog cleared up," he said.

Ganesh Akula, 26, an Indian mason whose left leg was broken in the pile-up, was travelling with colleagues in a minibus.

"I was sitting behind the driver, and in the last second I saw traffic was stopped in front of us," he said.

"The driver tried to stop, but it was too late. The minibus hit a car in front of us and then we were hit from the back. I was nervous because I had never seen fog like that before.

Brig Omar Abdul Aziz Al Shamsi of Dubai Police said that from 5 to 8am, when the fog was heaviest, the command and control centre had received 418 phone calls. On Monday, when there was also heavy fog, the centre received 391 phone calls during the same time period, and five serious, two moderate, and 47 minor accidents occurred. No major accidents were reported elsewhere in the UAE.

Brig Gen Al Shamsi said drivers should never use their hazard lights unless there was an accident, and advised them to check the weather forecast before going out.

"While on the road, if drivers feel that the conditions are not safe enough to drive, then they should pull over on the sand next to the highway and wait for conditions to improve," he said.

"Drivers should also ensure that their windshield wipers and tyres are in good condition, that the brakes are operating properly and that the windshield is clean. Drivers should also drive with their headlights on low beam."

Drivers are being cautioned about taking to the roads today: thick fog is expected from Abu Dhabi city to the Northern Emirates between 2am and 8.30am.

The temperature is expected to drop by up to four degrees Celsius on Thursday, and although no heavy weather is expected on land, sailors have been warned to stay in port from Thursday to Sunday because of high seas.

Waves will be two to four feet on Thursday morning, between five to seven feet in the afternoon and up to eight feet by Thursday night, the National Centre of Meteorology and Seismology said.

Seas are expected to be at their worst on Friday, with waves from six to eight feet. Waters are expected to be calm on Saturday and Sunday.

No rain, lightning or thunder are expected over the weekend.

"On Thursday the weather will be partly cloudy, and the north will have more clouds, but in general it will be fair to partly cloudy," said Mohammed Qureshi, a senior forecaster at the centre.

ealghalib@thenational.ae

* With additional reporting by Anna Zacharias