Massive pile-up on Abu Dhabi road as fog reduces visibility

Jan

8

2015

ABU DHABI // Witnesses have described the horror of a pile-up in the capital involving dozens of vehicles after thick fog blanketed parts of the UAE and caused mayhem on the roads.

Motorists caught up in the the collision, on the Shahama-Mafraq highway heading out of Abu Dhabi, described hearing glass shattering and the sound of cars crashing, with some describing scenes where vehicles were piled on top of one another.

“It was a horrible. It was just a massive car accident that went on and on and on,” said Zaina Yousaf, a teacher from Abu Dhabi who was on her way to Dubai for a conference.

The New Zealand expatriate said the scene was chaotic.

“We stopped initially because two cars had crashed and one was literally on top of the other one. It was kind of sticking up in the air.

“We could hear behind us a bang, and there were cars crashing behind us one after the other.”

Ms Yousaf described the road conditions as slippery and said thick fog that descended on the emirate had severely reduced visibility.

The pileup led to a large traffic jam, said the teacher.

“We stopped where the accident was and the whole road was blocked.

“We didn’t move for half an hour – there were tons and tons of people and they were all getting out of their cars. Nobody could drive.”

Police and ambulance struggled to get through the traffic to deal with the injured, she said.

“All the lanes were blocked. Eventually, they started moving cars to the side of the road.

“As we drove it just got worse and worse. I have never seen anything like it in my life. One car after another smashed.

“Not just a little ding on the side of the car – one car was totally smashed on the side. We saw a Mercedes that had been on fire.”

Other cars had doors ripped off, Ms Yousaf said, and injured people lay on the road.

“We saw this motorcycyle in the middle of the road and we saw the guy that had been on it was on the side of the road really badly injured. As we drove down we saw other people on the sides of the road lying down.

“People were driving and the fog was so thick and the roads so slippery.”

Thomas Crompton, 32, a colleague of Ms Yousaf’s, was also witness to the accident. The duo had been travelling as part of a group to a conference in Dubai.

Mr Crompton said he had been in the back of the car when the group began to notice cars in front slow down.

“Very quickly, emerging out of the fog, because there was limited visibility, we saw cars were rapidly slowing down so we slowed down and stopped and, fortunately, we had enough braking distance.”

Mr Crompton said his first response was to check for traffic coming behind the car he was travelling in.

“I looked out of the window and made eye contact with the lady in the car coming towards us. She was on the ball enough and had enough braking distance to stop in time.”

Other motorists approaching the scene were not so lucky, he said.

“I kept looking out of the window and a couple of other cars behind that one were involved in the collision as they did not have enough braking distance.

“For a minute all you could hear was screeching tyres and glass shattering and you thought ‘oh no, there is another one’.

“We could see in front of us which was probably the worst point. The back of the car [in front] was pointing up in the air towards us. We were thinking, how did that car get in that position? We could see that a van was involved and that another car had jack-knifed into another.”

Mr Crompton said after the collision people exited their vehicles, while some cars blocked the hard shoulder.

“Then the police came and they were trying to move some of the vehicle involved in the accident.

“It was a bit upsetting that the road hadn’t been swept because when we did get moving there was just debris all over the roads. When we started moving we got an idea of just how many cars were involved. I was not counting but I would say 100 or more and all at different levels.”

The National Centre of Meteorology and Seismology warned of low horizontal visibility on Thursday morning in different parts of the country due to accumulation of fog.

The weather bureau advised motorists to exercise care, reduce speed and maintain safe distances between vehicles to avoid accidents.

On Wednesday, the NCMS said the country would not be affected by a snowstorm, which has affected Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. Forecasters expect the extreme weather to last for two days.

Mr Crompton said the group has stopped at a service station shortly after clearing the accident and were all shaken up.

“We just wanted to get off the road,” he said. “But was worrying after the accident was that lots of other people also wanted to get off the road. ppeople were literally pulling over to the hard shoulder and that was kind of dangerous too. But I am sure there were so many people who were just in a state of shock.”

In: News Asked By: [473 Blue Star Level]

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