12 Indians killed in Dubai bus accident
At least 12 Indians were among 17 people killed when a bus packed with Eid vacationers entered a restricted lane and rammed into a low-clearance height barrier in the United Arab Emirates city, local police and the Indian mission said on Friday.
Nine persons were also seriously injured when the driver of the bus, coming from Oman’s capital Muscat to Dubai, entered a road not designated for buses around 6pm on Thursday while heading for the Al Rashidiya metro station in Dubai .
The low-clearance signboard that hangs over a car-only off-ramp of the Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road, a major highway in Dubai, smashed through the left side of the bus and killed almost everyone seated on that side.
Khaleej Times quoted the driver, identified as an Omani national who sustained critical injuries, as saying to the police that he couldn’t see the warning signage as he had put a curtain on his windshield to protect his eyes from the sun.
Dubai Police said that some of the bodies remained unidentified and that the number of Indian casualties could rise.
External affairs minister S Jaishankar, currently in Bhutan, expressed his condolences to the families of the deceased. “Deeply grieved by the unfortunate bus accident in Dubai that has claimed 12 Indian lives. My sincere condolences to the families,” he tweeted.
Eight of the 12 killed hailed from Kerala, Union minister of state for external affairs V Muraleedharan added.
Vipul, the Indian Consul General in Dubai, said embassy officials were at the Rashidiya police station and mortuary to extend all assistance to the families of the victims.
“Our effort now is to get formalities completed soon so that mortal remains can be repatriated soon,” he added.
“Sometimes a minor error or negligence during driving leads to serious consequences,” Dubai Police said on Twitter, without elaborating on the cause of the crash.
The bus, belonging to the Omani bus transport company, Mwasalat, was carrying 31 passengers, Gulf News reported. Visuals from the accident site showed the left side of the bus mangled by the signboard.
Muraleedharan said efforts were on to bring back the bodies of the 12 Indians. He said the Consul General in Dubai was coordinating all activities and bodies will be sent to the respective destinations at the earliest.
Vipul said that officers from the consulate were taking all necessary steps to ensure repatriation formalities of all victims are completed as soon as possible. “Once death certificates are issued, the bodies will be sent for embalming and other procedures,” he was quoted as saying by Khaleej Times.
“We were told about the mishap last night. I have lost my uncle C Ummer (65) and his son, my cousin brother, C Nabeel. Both were working in Dubai and they went to Muscat to spend Eid holidays,” a relative M Mohsin, a resident of Thalassery in north Kerala, said.
Among the dead is Deepak Kumar, a chartered accountant from Kerala capital of Thiruvananthapuram. His wife and son were also injured in the mishap and are undergoing treatment in Dubai. Their relatives were told by authorities that their condition was stable.
Dubai Police expressed its condolences to the families. “The General Directorate of Dubai Police extends its sincere condolences to the families of the deceased who were involved in a bus crash at Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road, which killed 17 passengers,” it said.
The Indian Consul General also released a list of the Indians killed in the accident: Vikram Jawahar Thakur, Vimal Kumar Karthikeyan Kesavapilaikar, Kiran Johny Johny Vallithottathil Paily, Firoz Khan Aziz Pathan, Reshma Feroz Khan Pathan, Jamaludeen Arakkaveettil, Vasudev Vishandas, Rajan Puthiyapurayil Gopalan, Prabula Madhavan Deepa Kumar, Roshni Moolchandani, Ummer Chonokatavath Mammad Puthen, Nabil Ummer Chonokatavath.
Mwasalat, the bus company, issued a statement on Twitter announcing the suspension of services between Muscat and Dubai and vice versa, until further notice. “Mwasalat family expresses its deepest condolences to the families of the deceased and wishes a speedy recovery to the injured,” it tweeted.
The service separately identified the dead as 11 Indians, two Pakistanis, one Irish citizen and an Omani, with two others not immediately identified. The discrepancy between the company’s figures and the Indian consular officials could not be immediately explained.
Pakistani consular officials in Dubai declined to immediately comment. The Irish Embassy in Abu Dhabi said it was aware of reports of the death and providing consular assistance.
Among the 31 people on board were also citizens of Bangladesh, Germany and the Philippines, the bus company’s statement said. It added that seven passengers remained hospitalised, with one in critical condition. Eight others had been discharged. Dubai Police said the dead included different nationalities, without elaborating.