Muscat: A father and his 12-year-old son were left fighting for life and five other family members were treated in hospital after a trip home turned into a nightmare on the Haima death crash coach.
Saleh Zaid Al Rashedi, 42, was left critically injured with abdominal injuries after the crash in the early hours of Friday, along with his 12-year-old son Mohmed, who was airlifted to Khoula Hospital with a severe head injury.
The family, travelling to their native Yemen for a long awaited break from their adopted home in the United States, were all given US citizenship in December last year.
Mum Hana and two other sons, Ahmed, 11, and Ali, 5, sustained minor injuries while daughters Amina, 8, and six-year-old Arwa, were checked for minor injuries at Nizwa Hospital.
Mohmed has now undergone two life saving operations at Khoula Hospital and his father is said to be out of danger in an intensive care unit at Nizwa Hospital, again after two successful operations.
The family, originally from Yemen, moved to the United States 17 years ago and have been living in New York. They were returning to Yemen to live so that their children could learn Arabic and had flown in to Muscat Airport on Thursday evening, before embarking on the ill-fated journey south to Salalah on board a Salalah Line Transport coach.
The accident, in the early hours of Friday, left two people dead, seven critically injured and 34 with moderate to minor injuries.
The bus the family was on collided with a heavy truck and Oman’s Ministry of Health activated an emergency response plan to deal with the sheer scale of casualties.
“I don’t remember how it happened,” Hana said, “we were asleep when we crashed. Of course we were in shock.
“My husband and son just finished their second surgery and they are well. I suffered a minor injury but I’m fine, and my youngest son hurt his head but he’s okay. My two daughters aren’t injured at all.
“We are all in the same room now at the hospital. I stay in the room all day. My husband wakes up every now and then, but he isn’t well enough to do anything else.
“We’ve been in America since 2000. We live in the Bronx, New York. We’ve visited Yemen three times since we left, but haven’t been back in eight years. We were planning on going back to teach the children Arabic, since they don’t teach Arabic there,” she added.
Ali Yafai, Hana’s brother, added: “Please help them. Someone please help Saleh’s dad. They don’t have anyone there,” Ali pleaded.
“Saleh’s father is in Saudi Arabia and has been trying to enter the country since the crash, but the consultant wasn’t there when he went. Saleh’s siblings have been waiting to come in since the crash happened. I don’t know what happened. Regardless of the process, we are in a humanitarian situation. This is an emergency, we need someone to help, somehow.”
Close Omani family friend Abdul Rahman Mukhaini is trying to help the family out with paperwork and with bringing their relatives into the country.
Immediately after the accident, a fleet of air and ground ambulances – including army medics – ferried the injured to hospitals across four governorates for treatment, and Oman’s Ministry of Health activated its emergency plan for major incidents and manned a central command and control centre throughout the rescue operation.
The two men killed in the accident were the drivers of the bus and the truck, one Indian national and one Pakistani, police have confirmed.
All involved in the crash were expatriates, mostly of Asian origin, the statement added.
According to a stream of tweets from the Ministry of Health, emergency flights airlifted the injured to Dhofar, Al Wusta, Ad Dakhiliya and Muscat hospitals.
In the aftermath of the incident, bus operators say that passenger numbers have dropped drastically. “A lot of people cancelled their booking after the crash,” an official of a private company which runs daily buses to Muscat from Salalah said.
A senior official of Salalah Line Transport, however, asserted that their buses are safe. “What happened on Friday was an isolated incident and investigations are going on to ascertain the cause of the accident.”
He added that it is the first time such an incident happened since they opened their business in Oman. “We operate 14 buses in Oman but never such an incident happened.”
The Indian School Al Ghubra (ISG) authorities clarified that Mahiuddin Ahmed, the survivor of the bus crash in Haima who spoke to Times of Oman yesterday, does not work with them. “We would like to clarify that Mahiuddin Ahmed, is genuinely not an employee of ISG,” a statement from the school said.
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