x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Doctor warns over minibus safety

Three labourers died and 11 were seriously injured when their minibus crashed as they travelled to work.

Several occupants of the minibus were thrown out after it hit the metal barrier in the middle of the road and overturned.
Several occupants of the minibus were thrown out after it hit the metal barrier in the middle of the road and overturned.

DUBAI // Three labourers died and 11 were seriously injured when their mini-bus crashed as they travelled to work today. The early morning smash near Jebel Ali in Dubai was the second serious accident involving a workers' bus in two days, and the injuries sustained in it prompted one doctor to warn the vehicles were unsafe. Police said today's accident happened when an Egyptian man driving a Kia 4x4 shifted lanes and hit the bus, causing it to overturn and hit a metal barrier. The bus was pitched onto another lane heading in the opposite direction, several of its occupants thrown out onto the road. "There was blood everywhere," said one witness, a motorist who was driving to work when the accident happened. "Other motorists were diverting traffic as they waited for the police and ambulance to arrive." Two of the three dead men were pronounced at scene of the accident, the third at the hospital. Seven of the 11 injured were categorised as extremely critical, while three were serious but stable. One man was discharged from hospital later today. The seven critical patients suffered from brain injuries, while one also sustained a contusion of the lung and another suffered from a pelvic injury. Several underwent emergency surgery yesterday and were moved to the intensive care unit. "The brain damage was a surprise to us," said Dr Younis Kazim, director of medical affairs at Rashid Hospital. "Usually with cases of traffic accidents, patients suffer more often from severe body trauma to other areas, such as the chest and legs, rather than the head." The extent of brain damage signalled to doctors that at some point, the labourers heads were exposed. "The problem with minibuses is that they are not as strong as other vehicles when dealing with impact," said Dr Kazim. "Pick-up trucks are the worst, but minibuses are next in line." The accident occurred at 7.40am on the Jebel Ali Lhbab Road. The first patient arrived at Rashid Hospital by 8.15am, with the final patient arriving 90 minutes later. Two of those injured were airlifted from the scene of the accident by helicopter, while the rest travelled in ambulances. Three of the injured were of Pakistani origin, while the rest, including the man who was pronounced dead on arrival, were Indian. The dead had not been formally identified today. The driver of the Kia was not hurt. He was being held and questioned in Jebel Ali police station, said Major Khalid Kansham, director of the accident department at the General Department of Traffic, Dubai Police. Police said he had been driving alone in the fast lane before quickly shifting to the middle lane, where the bus was travelling. Major Kansham said police did not share Dr Kazim's concerns about the safety of the bus. "The bus meets international safety requirements and is approved by the Government and has been designed to transport passengers and its safety is not currently in question," he said. In another fatal crash at around the same time this morning, a Palestinian man died after he ran a red light and hit a concrete barrier on Al Khail roundabout in the direction of Al Barsha. "The impact was so hard that the car's rooftop ripped off," said Esam al Awar, head of the patrol department Bur Dubai Station. On Sunday 19 labourers were injured, six seriously, when two buses collided in Musaffah industrial area in Abu Dhabi. Some of the injured needed to be cut from the wreckage. nsamaha@thenational.ae rabubaker@thenational.ae