Muscat: At least 22 people were reported to be killed when a truck laden with gravel collided with a bus carrying 46 Asian migrant workers in Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates, police said yesterday, even as sources claimed the toll may be higher.
Sources in the UAE claim that of the 22 killed, 16 were from Bangladesh. However, quoting the Bangladeshi embassy officials in the UAE, the media in Dhaka are claiming a toll of 20 people.
According to the Al Ain police, the mishap happened as the truck driver lost control of his vehicle and crashed into the bus, trapping its passengers under the cargo
"Most of the workers died after suffocating in the pile of sand and construction material," witnesses claimed, but this could not be independently verified.
Twenty-four people were injured, with at least five of them suffering critical injuries, officials from two hospitals in Al Ain said.
Even though the police did not disclose the nationalities of the dead, sources claim that most of the victims killed in the accident were from Bangladesh.
"What we learnt from hospital sources is that the toll may go up because the condition of some of the victims admitted to the hospital is critical. So far, we have confirmed that three Indians have been killed in the accident," Al Ain sources told Times of Oman.
India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan embassy officials have rushed their teams to the accident site to conduct rescue operations. The crash occurred on the Old Truck Road (E30), near Sih Sabra, Al Ain, at around 8 a.m.
"The lorry overturned and fell on the bus when its brakes failed," Brig. Gen. Hussein Ahmed Al Harthi, head of the Traffic and Patrols Directorate at Abu Dhabi Police, told the UAE media.
"A total of 11 people were taken to Tawam Hospital and are currently in stable condition in intensive care units or in surgery," a hospital employee said. The dead, all of whom were Asians, were taken to Al Ain Hospital, according to Brig. Gen Al Harthi.
All police units were immediately dispatched to the scene upon receiving the call to rescue victims trapped in the bus and to provide first aid to the injured. Al Ain police also deployed helicopters to extract the injured workers buried under the pile of sand at the site of the horrific accident.