x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Survivors recall crash horror

'I was surrounded by at least five or six bodies and a lot of blood. I couldn’t recognise anyone,' says one labourer on the bus carrying 28 workers from their accommodation in UAQ to work places in Jebel Ali when the accident happened.

Thirteen people died and more than a dozen were injured when a bus hit a lorry stopped on the roadside close to the Dubai Club bridge. Courtesy Dubai Police
Thirteen people died and more than a dozen were injured when a bus hit a lorry stopped on the roadside close to the Dubai Club bridge. Courtesy Dubai Police

DUBAI // Abdul Kader can still see the bodies of his workmates covered in blood each time he closes his eyes. The Bangladeshi fabricator was asleep when the bus he was travelling on ploughed into a lorry on the hard shoulder of Emirates Road on Saturday and flipped over.

“I was surrounded by at least five or six bodies and a lot of blood. I couldn’t recognise anyone because their faces were badly disfigured,” said the 29-year-old.

“I don’t even remember when I became unconscious. I came back to my senses only when I was taken in the ambulance.”

Mr Kader and three other compatriots remain in hospital. He is receiving treatment to injuries to his head and torso and is expected to make a full recovery.

The bus was carrying 28 workers from their accommodation in Umm Al Quwain to workplaces in Jebel Ali when the accident happened. Thirteen men were killed, nine from India and four from Bangladesh.

Mr Kader, a contract worker with Bravo Technical Services who earns between Dh600 and Dh1,600 a month, said he could not believe his four friends were gone.

“We always travelled together and worked together. It’s really sad they are no more. We went together everywhere. I am lucky to be alive.”

He said he had not yet told his family back home about the accident.

“I haven’t spoken to my family yet. My father is 85 years old and was just brought back home after a surgery. If he knows of my condition, he could have a heart attack.

“I will wait until I get better to tell them. I’ll speak to them and decide if I should stay here or go back to Bangladesh.”

Abdul Kalam said he was scared to get on a bus again after the accident.

“I was sitting right behind the driver. I was jolted from my sleep and I realised the vehicle was flipping over several times,” said Mr Kalam, a Bangladeshi fabricator who has worked for Holland Technical Services for seven years.

“Many of us became unconscious. Someone had carried us out and when I woke up, I was in the ambulance,” said the 29-year-old. He was discharged from hospital on Saturday after being treated for minor injuries.

“I cannot eat or sleep, I can only think of those people who were with us and died. I am so scared to sit in a bus again. I can only pray that nothing like this happens to me again.”

Mr Kalam said he wants to leave the UAE and return home, but has to stay because he took out loans to travel to the emirates for work.

Unlike most of the passengers on the bus, Mamoon Mian was awake when the crash happened and was able to telephone for help before trying to pull the injured from the wreckage.

“Luckily I was conscious after the incident and started pulling out bodies from the debris of the bus as bodies were stuck in there.

“Then I called the police who reached us in almost two to three minutes. Later they flew us in helicopters to the hospital,” said the 27-year-old Bangladeshi.

“I took out four bodies from the debris of the bus. It was a very horrible scene as everybody there was in a pool of blood. This was a first accident for me. I can never forget such a terrible accident in my life, where bodies were shattered on the road.”

Mr Mian was sitting in the second-to-last row on the bus. He said he thought the driver may have fallen asleep. “I don’t remember the speed but the speed didn’t seem very high.”

Ibrahim Saeedul said he remembers “a huge explosion-like sound”.

“We all were numbed for a few moments then started crawling out from the bus. Then we started helping others. I received minor injuries and bruises but thank God I am safe and sound now and helping other colleagues who are still in hospital,” said the 29-year-old from Bangladesh.

For the families of the victims, the shock of losing loved ones is being compounded by difficulties in finding which hospital is holding the bodies.

Mohammed Kabir Ahmed, whose nephew Nazrul Islam was killed in the crash, has been calling hospitals and police stations since Saturday.

“It’s very unfortunate that I couldn’t see the body of my nephew and have been shuttling between hospitals since morning but nobody could confirm where is the body.”

Mr Ahmed, who lives in Dubai’s Sonapur labour camp, has been asked by his family to help repatriate Mr Islam’s remains back to Bangladesh.

“His parents are wailing back home and awaiting the body. The consulate told me the body is in Al Baraha hospital but it isn’t there.”

pkannan@thenational.ae

anwar@thenational.ae