x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Two dead and 15 hurt as fog causes six crashes

Worst crash sees 18 vehicles smash into each other on Tarrif-Abu Dhabi road, with more pile-ups on bridges into capital.

A fire fighter cleans up after an 18-car pile-up in heavy fog on the Tarrif-Abu Dhabi road.
A fire fighter cleans up after an 18-car pile-up in heavy fog on the Tarrif-Abu Dhabi road.

ABU DHABI // Two people died and 15 were injured in six accidents yesterday and heavy vehicles were banned from the roads as thick fog blanketed the emirate.

In the largest crash, an 18-car pile-up on the road from Tarif to Abu Dhabi after Hamim bridge, two died and 11 were injured.

The crash happened when a car joined the main road and the driver failed to see traffic in his direction, police said. A car hit him from behind and 16 others followed into the resulting crash, said Brig Gen Hussein al Harithi, the director of Abu Dhabi traffic police. The victims were taken to Al Mafraq Hospital.

"Police patrols rushed to the scene and took the necessary precautions to prevent more accidents from taking place by directing traffic and clearing the accident scene," he said.

Elsewhere, a six-car crash choked traffic on the Inmaa bridge heading towards Abu Dhabi, and there was another multi-car crash on the Maqta bridge.

In Umm al Nar, one lane of the road towards Abu Dhabi was closed temporarily after a multi-vehicle accident. All the accidents happened in the morning.

Heavy vehicles are now banned during fog to avoid major accidents, the officer said.

Offenders may have their vehicle confiscated for a month, and be given 12 black points and a Dh200 fine.

The fog is not expected to return today, said Adel Kamal of the National Centre of Meteorology and Seismology. It occurs mostly in western and southern regions of the country, he said.

"It usually increases during this time of the year because of high pressure at the Earth's surface, accompanied by north-western winds, which fill with water vapour during the day above the Arabian Gulf," he said.

A lack of updraughts prevents the water vapour from rising, he added.

The most common type of fog in the UAE is radiation fog, which occurs in calm conditions when the ground cools off after sunset, causing condensation in the air above it.

Dalia Sufian, , 26, a Palestinian-American sales manager, said a lorry nearly crashed into her car as she was driving to Al Ain at 8am. "All the lorries were driving in the middle and left lane," she said, "and it was a bit congested from the fog."

Mohammed Rashad, an engineer in cyber security from Jordan, said he witnessed two accidents at about 7.30am on his way to work. The first was in Mohammed bin Zayed City, and appeared to be caused by a car hitting concrete blocks, he said.

"That street is a dead-end street," he said. "The cement blocks were at the end of the street, and it looked like the driver of the car didn't know that it is a dead end, and ended up hitting the cement blocks. It was too foggy to see them." The crash did not seem serious, he said.

"The second accident was at a roundabout in Mussafah. A car wanted to enter the roundabout, and I think because it was extremely foggy, the car behind it didn't see it and hit it from the back.

"This weather is really dangerous. People should drive really carefully, put on their car's fog lights, and keep their eyes really open. It's definitely not time for BlackBerry broadcasts in such a weather."

Hussam Mohammed, a paramedic who works on Abu Dhabi's roads, said he was called to two accidents at 2am yesterday in Shahama.

"The first one was a car that hit the fence along the road and then another crashed into it," he said. "The second accident was a simple crash between two cars."

Neither of the accidents resulted in injuries, he said.

hdajani@thenational.ae