UAE | Emergencies

Major car pile-up in Abu Dhabi

One killed after massive car pile-up on Abu Dhabi-Dubai highway

  • By Binsal Abdul Kader, Staff Reporter
  • Published: 15:25 April 2, 2011

Crashes between Samha and Ghantoot
  • Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News
  • Crashes between Samha and Ghantoot on the Dubai-Abu Dhabi highway at around 7.30am on April 2, 2011 left one person dead.
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Abu Dhabi: One person died and more than 60 people were injured in a massive car pile-up involving 127 vehicles on the Dubai-Abu Dhabi highway early Saturday, according to police. 

The accident took place between Sahama and Ghantoot on the Dubai-Abu Dhabi highway around 8am, according to Abu Dhabi police. Motorists and eyewitnesses said heavy morning fog and speeding could be the key reasons for the accidents. Nine of the injured are in critical condition, the official spokesperson of SEHA (Abu Dhabi Health Services Company) told Gulf News.  

Tips: How to drive in foggy conditions

According to a statement issued by Abu Dhabi police, 127 cars were involved in the pile-up that left one person of Asian nationality dead and 61 others injured. 

The directorate in the Abu Dhabi Police received a communication from the Operating Room at 7:59am that a traffic accident occurred on the main street in Al Samha, and police arrived at the site in five minutes. More than 100 police cars from the Abu Dhabi Police were on site, backed by 17 vehicles from the armed forces, Dubai police, civil defence and ambulances.

The police rescue team secured and removed the remains of the accident and re-routed traffic to normal within two hours, according to the statement. 

Police said the scene of the accident was two kilometres long, and no helicopters were used due to the low visibility, which was less than 50 metres. According to them, most of the cars involved in the pile-up were speeding at 120 km per hour, despite poor visibility conditions.

According to a spokesperson from the National Centre of Meteorology & Seismology in Abu Dhabi, visibility was reduced to less than 50 metres from Jebel Ali towards Al Rahba and Al Samha due to thick fog early this morning. 

The fog, which was formed due to clear night weather conditions and an almost calm wind interacting with the heat rising from the ground, began in Umm Al Quwain around 1am before spreading to other emirates over the course of the night.

"We were aware of this fog formation three days ago and had sent an alert to the police, hospitals and other relevant organisations and departments. A confirmation about the fog was also sent on Friday morning," the spokesperson said.

The Dubai-Abu Dhabi highway was closed to traffic towards Dubai from Al Tawela bridge on Saturday morning, Abu Dhabi police reported on Twitter. The road was reopened for normal traffic from the bridge at around 10.50am, according to police, who advised motorists to drive cautiously. 

Police cleared most of the vehicles from the crash site within a matter of hours. 

According to Gulf News reader and Dubai resident Venkatesh Mahadevan, who was an eyewitness to the accident, the pile-up occurred at around 7.30am. “I was very lucky to have escaped. I was driving behind a bus… I must have been 15 feet away from it when I heard a loud crash and veered out of the lane just in time to avoid a collision. I then heard several bangs in the background – more cars had crashed into the bus. There were a lot of buses involved in the crash – most of them carrying workers,” Mahadevan said. 

Another Gulf News reader who decided to park his car by the side of the highway and wait out the dense fog said: “It was horrifying to see many cars going at very high speed even though the visibility was reduced to only five metres.” 

“Around 8am I started expecting the road to be clear but I was immediately held up by lengthy pile up of vehicles near the Adnoc petrol pump and there was heavy smell of burning tyre,” reader Sunil Jacob said, adding: “I saw lots of ambulances and fire engines rushing towards the site. I appreciate the efforts by Abu Dhabi emergency team for their crisis management.” 

Other readers caught in the massive tailback after the pile-up said they had to wait hours for the road to clear or were diverted through alternative roads. 

In March 2008, five people died and more than 350 were injured in a horrific 60 vehicle pile-up on the Abu Dhabi-Dubai highway near Ghantoot, also because of dense fog.

The fog on Saturday morning continued until 9am, causing the closure of both the Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Highway exiting Yas Island, and the Shaikh Zayed bridge. They were re-opened by police at 10:50am. "We are expecting it to return early Sunday morning with similar visibility constraints. Monday morning will also experience fog, however, visibility will be much higher than the past two days," the Met official said.

- With inputs from Dina El Shammaa, Abu Dhabi Deputy Editor, and Nathalie Farah, Staff Reporter

Crash: Impossible to avoid

Saturday's accident was virtually impossible to avoid, but the severity could have been greatly reduced said an expert.

Dubai-based Kailash Tiwari, who has been a road safety specialist for 30 years, told Gulf News that the size of the accident could have been reduced to four or five cars if drivers had received better warning about the road conditions ahead and education about how to drive in such weather.

He said that the accident was also caused by low visibility and poor driving. He said: "People must have been driving at high speeds and not considering the low visibility... and they collided with one another."

—  Heather Madore,Community Solutions Editor

Comments (125)

  1. Added 00:42 April 4, 2011

    I think that accident because of bus. Mostly I see the bus drivers are overspeeding, sometimes changing their lane without indicator and in same speed without matter that small cars are behind. I think they must strictly abide the rules and lane.

    zubair ali, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  2. Added 22:00 April 3, 2011

    People won't learn from the past experiences. Even in day-to-day normal city driving also you can very clearly make it out. If you are waiting in a main road junction for a clear road they honk you from behind even if the road is full of vehicles forcing you to enter the road dangerously! Similarly entering to a main road from the side road they don't care about the vehicle coming in the main road. Endless examples to give. Our fate only has to save us.

    Udumbara Nath, Ajman, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 21:18 April 3, 2011

    KILL THE CONVERSATION BEFORE ITS KILL YOU!! This is for those who speak on the mobile during driving.

    Mohammed, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

  4. Added 18:10 April 3, 2011

    I am regular to driving this route and I know many who drive for work every day from Dubai-Abu Dhabi and back. Fortunately this was a Saturday and we had fewer cars than on weekdays as some of the offices were off. Imagine the scenario then. This route needs serious consideration. Why not plan to have state wide train network saving many an agony to travel this route. This can really help Abu Dhabi- Dubai and Dubai - Sharjah and Sharjah-Ajman passangers. And really I have no works for people who tail-gate and create most of these accidents. They are the real culprits and victims here.

    Jigar, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  5. Added 17:46 April 3, 2011

    Buses carrying workers are too many on that road, they do not stick to one lane, they even speed to 120km/hr, please build a Rail Metro from DXB to ADH

    Alfred, Dubai, India

  6. Added 17:43 April 3, 2011

    Patience is the key while driving on the road. Unfortunately majority are impatient and would love to drive on high speed even when the roads are clogged. Sudden lane changing, not waiting for seconds in the same lane is the cause of smaller accidents. And the same attitude on empty roads leads to major accidents. Further there are people who gets egoistic while driving, the most irresponsible trait I encounter everyday. More harsh and severe punishments would jolt these people.

    Saad, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  7. Added 17:15 April 3, 2011

    There should be a severe penalty for people driving with their hazard lights on! Also some graphic billboards of road traffic accidents and also safety messages everywhere!

    Richard , Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  8. Added 17:12 April 3, 2011

    I agree with MIiss Eva. Slow drivers who are in second lane are to danger as every one has to over take them and speeding cars in fast lane can hit them while over taking. Authorities must find such drivers and fine them as they are realy problem makers. 127 car pile is out of understanding the reason how such a big number of driver can not control the cars and trucks when there is accident in front.

    aftab , warsaw, Poland

  9. Added 17:08 April 3, 2011

    Who came up with the idea to have camera's flash only at 160 Km/h on the Abu Dhabi-Dubai Road? Since the majority of people lack total repsect for anyone elses live or well being, what do we expect they do on the high ways? Using hazard lights in fog. What a mistake. On top of that some people never pay their fines and even get in trouble for it, and we then are surprised if our lives are endangoured?

    Robert, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  10. Added 17:07 April 3, 2011

    I have seen people speeding on the highway under extremely foggy conditions. This behaviour is against all common sense. I guess the same behaviour led to this pile-up. It's lack of common sense that is the main culprit.

    Yasser, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

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