The Sultanate has been blighted by yet another bus crash that has left 18 people dead and more than a dozen injured, bringing the death toll from bus-related accidents in Oman to 25 in under five weeks.
In the latest crash, three vehicles – a tourist bus, a truck and a car – were invovled in a pile-up on the road between Fahud and Ibri in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
Eighteen people lost their lives, including six Omanis, four Saudi nationals, two Pakistanis and one Yemeni, according to the Royal Oman Police (ROP). Another 16 have been left with injuries ranging from minor to serious and were transported to nearby hospitals for treatment. Five people were admitted to the intensive care unit at Ibri Hospital, said a source close to the scene.
Initial police investigations suggest that the bus, which belongs to Gulf Transport Company (GTC) and was carrying passengers from Salalah to Dubai, a journey of more than 1,200km, collided head-on with the truck at a roundabout. A saloon car then smashed into the wreckage.
The Omani driver of the bus was criticially injured.
Apart from confirming the bus was one of theirs, GTC had not made any official comment at the time of going to print.
Police helicopters and support teams from Muscat ferried the injured to hospital, with the help of staff from Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) and other companies situated close to the site of the accident.
In 2004, a public transport bus crashed on the route between Salalah and Nizwa, killing 24.
The latest accident comes less than two months after another fatal bus crash claimed the lives of seven – four of them schoolchildren – close to Nizwa. The bus had been transporting 34 Indian School Nizwa Class II students back from a field trip to Bahla on January 28.
School buses were also in the spotlight again this week when a Class 1 student of Indian School Wadi Kabir was caught between the doors of her bus while trying to disembark.
Not realising her situation, the driver continued on his journey, dragging the young girl, who has been identified as Malavika, for several metres.
Malavika was admitted to Khoula Hospital where she received treatment for a broken pelvis, damage to her liver and internal bleeding. According to her father, there was a lot of bleeding, but her condition is starting to improve.
The driver of the bus, who assisted Malavika’s parents in admitting her to hospital, called it “an unfortunate incident” and the transport company has also expressed concern over the accident.
Mr D N Rao, principal of Indian School Wadi Kabir, said that the school will be praying for Malavika’s speedy recovery, but this has not stopped her parents from lodging a complaint with the police.