Abu Dhabi: "The visibility was so poor, we didn't know what hit us," said a patient lying in Al Mafraq Hospital as he recounted the 200 vehicle pile-up on the Abu Dhabi-Dubai highway on Tuesday.

Labourer Ali Kumar was among the injured in a bus on its way to Jebel Ali. He told Gulf News that the bus driver did not see the cars or buses in front of him and rammed into cars already involved in the pile-up.

Kumar has a broken leg and superficial injuries. Most of his colleagues on the bus also suffered broken bones and were in a stable medical condition.

Nour Abzar, 39, from Pakistan, was waiting for his turn in front of the X-ray. His clothes were covered in blood and his arms, legs and head heavily bruised. He was driving his car at around 6.30am on his way to Dubai. "I could see a car accident from a distance but I never imagined it to be this bad. Before I knew it someone had rammed into my car from the back and my face smashed against the windscreen."

'A curse'

Egyptian worker Jameel Mikheal, 57, was sleeping when the crash happened. "It was about 6.40am and I woke up to find that our bus had hit another two buses in front. I am suffering a broken right leg. I still don't know my exact diagnosis, but feel a lot of pain."

Another Egyptian worker, Abdul Khalek Mohammad, was diagnosed with a fracture in the neck. He described the accident as "a curse."

"I witnessed two buses hitting each other and a car crashing into them from the back. Our bus was hit by both buses from each side," he said.

Abdul Shaheed recalls seeing a large number of small and large buses and cars and a huge fire which was barely visible. "I have no idea how our bus driver ended up in the middle of the accident, but if I have to guess, none of these drivers expected so many cars in front of them and had to brake all of a sudden."

Shaheed is suffering from a major neck fracture and may need surgery. He was still undergoing diagnosis when Gulf News spoke to him.

According to Dr Jahad Awad, head of the accident and emergency (A&E) department at Al Mafraq Hospital, 150 walk-ins from the accident were diagnosed, with two women in a stable condition.

Seventy casualties were transferred to the hospital clinic for checkups, 17 moderately severe casualties are suffering from chest pain and broken bones, and one patient is critical in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Two people underwent surgery, one with a severe neck fracture and the other a limb fracture.

Dr Awad confirmed that a number of existing ICU patients had to be moved to accommodate the influx of casualties.

Extra nurses and specialists from different departments were called in to assist.

Scheduled surgeries were cancelled to keep the theatre open for urgent conditions from the accident.

"I received a call at 8.45am from our A&E department. By 9.20am, 13 patients had arrived at Al Mafraq. Their conditions were serious to moderate. Another 20 patients followed shortly after, with moderate to mild conditions. We then had a huge inflow of patients coming in through Abu Dhabi and Dubai ambulances, and two buses, full of injured workers, also transported some patients to our hospital," said Dr Awad.

By 9.20am Al Mafraq announced the disaster to all employees. More nurses and doctors were transferred to the A&E department.

Meanwhile, at Al Rahba Hospital, one patient suffering severe burns was transferred to Shaikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC), which, according to sources, received over 20 critical casualties. Employees from SKMC have been asked to donate their blood to the Blood Bank in Abu Dhabi.

Eissa Al Rumaithy, Director of Medical Middle Region, talked about the situation in Al Rahba.

He said a total of 151 patients were transferred to the hospital, 21 of which were women and the rest men, mostly Asian workers who were being transported from Abu Dhabi to Jebel Ali.

"We so far have four patients critically injured. They are suffering from a head concussion, broken bones and fractures. A total of 31 patients are in a moderate condition and 113 are mild. We discharged some patients by 2pm and have admitted 15 others," added Al Rumaithy.

Reckless: Firefighter run over

A firefighter has been killed after been run down by a reckless driver as he was battling a car blaze in the Western region of Abu Dhabi. The car blaze also killed the driver of the car, police sources told Gulf News.

Despite the thick fog on Tuesday morning which reduced visibility to a few metres, a 62-year-old driver sped at 120km/h and did not see firefighters working on another accident. The-48 year-old firefighter, identified as S.S., suffered severe trauma.

Major Faisal Esa, head of the traffic section in Ruwais, stressed the need for drivers to adhere to traffic laws.

- By Rayeesa Absal, Staff Reporter