Families remember victims of Dubai bus tragedy one year on

Relatives appeal for swift resolution of court case into deadly accident that claimed 17 lives

Seventeen passengers died when a bus struck a maximum-height sign in Dubai on June 6 of last year. The passengers were returning from Oman after the Eid vacation. The National 

Families held prayer ceremonies and took part in acts of charity in honour of loved ones who lost their lives in a devastating bus crash in Dubai one year ago.

Seventeen people were killed on June 6, 2019 when an Omani bus driver smashed into a height restriction barrier near the Al Rashidiya exit.

The impact tore through the left portion of the bus carrying 31 passengers from Muscat to Dubai after Eid Al Fitr.

The anguish remains hard to bear for grieving relatives left to reflect on the tragedy 12 months on.

Manisha Thakur, 31, donated biscuits, rice and flour for patients in a hospital in Pune, western India and offered prayers on Saturday for her husband Vikram, 33, who died in the tragedy.

“I lost my husband at a young age and it’s very difficult to cope with life,” Ms Thakur said from India.

She was at work in Dubai when the accident occurred.

She had cancelled plans to travel with her husband to Oman during the Eid break because of work meetings.

Ms Thakur lost her husband and a cousin, Roshni Moolchandani, in the accident.

“How can I ever forget that day?" she asked. "He was planning to surprise me by returning early from Oman.

"When I spoke to him in the afternoon I didn’t know he was on the bus back."

Ms Thakur is among UAE residents stuck in India as they await approval from authorities and flights to resume amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The family of Roshni Moolchandani distributed food to the needy in Ajmer, northern India and have opened a charitable trust in her name. Courtesy: Moolchandani family    

She worries about a new job she was supposed to start with a bank in Dubai, and her finances because her husband was the family’s main support.

The bus driver was released on bail in August, a month after a court sentenced him to seven years in jail and ordered payment of Dh3.4 million compensation.

Families have appealed for a quicker resolution to the court case.

Twelve Indians, two Pakistanis, an Irish woman, an Omani and a Filipina were killed.

“Every family is suffering,” Ms Thakur said. “Many people have lost their breadwinner and don’t know how to cope.

"I have lost hope about the case. I have been ill for a long time because I suffer from stress and replay what happened in my mind.”

The family of Ms Moolchandani, a hotel employee and aspiring model, also distributed food to the needy in Ajmer, northern India, and have opened a charitable trust in her name.

Darpan, her brother, said the family provided meals for about 3,000 children and elderly people daily, and have been supplying provisions to people affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

“All families are saddened that the case has not been completed yet,” he said.

“We also wish that our requests that the barrier be replaced by softer material were heard so that this sort of accident never takes place again.”

The Omani bus driver's lawyers blamed Dubai traffic authorities for placing a solid metal barrier and told the court it should have been made of material that would give way in case of a collision.

The emirate’s Roads and Transport Authority has maintained it followed international standards.

The RTA said signs including road bumps and a height restriction chain were in place to warn motorists about the barrier.

Police said the driver was travelling at more than double the speed limit on the day of the crash, took the wrong exit and failed to see the warning signs because he had hung a curtain across the top of the windshield to protect his eyes from the setting sun.