Abu Dhabi: Three people died, nine sustained serious injuries and 44 received moderate injuries in a bus accident on the Al Ghuwaifat-Abu Dhabi highway on Saturday evening.
All the deceased and the injured are Dubai-based Indians who were returning from Saudi Arabia after performing Umrah, relatives of the victims told Gulf News.
According to the police, the bus driver lost control, and the bus swerved suddenly and hit a metal fence on the roadside, before rolling downhill and overturning.
The police Air Wing and ambulances immediately moved the injured to various hospitals in Abu Dhabi. Colonel Hamad Nasser Al Beloushi, Head of the Peripheral Regions Traffic Department at the Ministry of Interior, said that as soon as the Central Operations Room received information about the incident at 3.30pm on Saturday, emergency units were dispatched to the scene.
The initial police report cited speeding, possible exhaustion of the driver due to overwork, his negligence and a tyre burst as the possible causes of the accident.
Col Al Beloushi urged heavy vehicle drivers to drive carefully, follow traffic rules and keep to the speed limit. He also advised motorists to check the condition of the tyres, especially while driving on highways, and not to purchase cheap tyres.
The deceased driver of the ill-fated bus called up his close relatives and friends on the fateful day, and shared his excitement about his travel back home next month to see his 28-day-old baby and for a planned housewarming party.
Abdul Latif, 38, an Indian, was assisted by another driver during the ten-day trip to perform Umrah in Saudi Arabia.
“The moment he crossed the UAE border [from Saudi Arabia] on Saturday morning, he called me up. He was so happy,” Mohammad Ali, 43, a colleague and close friend of Latif, told Gulf News on Sunday.
“Later I came to know that he had called up all his close relatives and friends. It seems he wanted to talk to all his dear ones before leaving us. He was excited about his travel back home next month to see his 28-day-old baby. He was talking about his newly constructed house too and planned a housewarming party,” Ali said. Latif is survived by his wife and three children.
Ali said Latif called him up again around 25 minutes before the accident. “I told him to drive slowly.”
Ali said the driver was an employee of a Dubai-based transport company that offered the bus service to a Dubai-based group of Indians from Kerala going for Umrah.
There were 60, including two drivers, in the bus and some of them were families. Of the 53 injured, none of them are in critical condition, said K.V. Shareef, an Indian social worker who was assisting the injured in the hospitals.
The second deceased, M. Abu Bakr, 46, was the coordinator of the group. He had been working as a messenger at the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs Dubai since 2007, M. Haneefa, his brother-in-law, told Gulf News. He is survived by his wife and four children.
The third deceased, Kallarakkal Mohammad, 41, was the leader of the group. He is survived by wife and three children, Kallarakkal Abu Bakr, 48, his elder brother, said. He was an X-ray technician at Rashid Hospital in Dubai, Bakr said.
He said the group left Dubai on May 6. “If fate had not ordained otherwise, they would have been back in Dubai last Saturday night,” Bakr said.
The bodies of the deceased were kept at the morgue at Madinat Zayed Hospital and were expected to be moved to Shaikh Khalifa Medical City morgue in Abu Dhabi city by Sunday night for embalming. “If all documents are processed, the bodies will repatriated by an early morning flight on Monday from Abu Dhabi,” the relatives said.
They said the injured were admitted to Al Mafraq Hospital and Madinat Zayed Hospital. Most of them were discharged from hospitals by Sunday afternoon. A one-year-old child was transferred to an Al Ain Hospital, they said.