Onlookers pull survivors from Dubai road pile-up

One woman dies at the scene and two are injured after five vehicles catch fire in a crash on Al Sofouh Road.

Dubai - August 4, 2010 - Dubai firefighters extinguish a fire resulting from a five car accident on Al Soufah Road near Knowledge Village in Dubai, August 4, 2010. Police reported a four wheel drive vehicle that was speeding had a tire blow out which caused the accident. (Photo by Jeff Topping/The National)
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DUBAI // Drivers and passengers involved in a multiple-car crash that killed one woman and left several other people injured helped to rescue individuals from burning vehicles. Onlookers also rescued motorists trapped in their cars. The accident, which involved at least five cars, took place at the first junction of Al Sofouh Road near Dubai College around 4pm yesterday. Officials said the incident began when the tyre of a speeding SUV exploded, sending the 4x4 crashing into nearby vehicles. Witnesses said the cars caught fire quickly, sending a plume of black smoke over the area. Civil Defence officials confirmed that the woman who died was an Indian national. Officials said that two men, one a Pakistani and the other a Syrian, were in stable condition at Rashid Hospital.

Amid all the activity, the victim's body lay on the road under a blue blanket, a leather handbag resting near by. Victims could be seen walking around the scene of the crash, crying and screaming for help. Fire crews, who were on the scene within minutes, spent more than half an hour extinguishing the four-wheel-drive vehicle. Paramedics at the scene were treating the walking wounded. Owen Bennett, who is from Ireland, was involved in the accident. He said the crash happened behind him as he waited for a traffic light to change. "We were told it was a blowout, and then all the cars started to crash into each other," he said. "My car was hit, but I got it away and then ran back to see if we could help people out. The fires started instantly. Once I saw the flames, I jumped out of my car and tried to help the families there. There was one family caught in one of the cars and we got them out. "They were very lucky. Their car caught fire as we were pulling them out and it just exploded when we got the last one away. It was touch-and-go. That whole family and all those kids are lucky to be alive. If the people were in the car any longer they would have been dead." Mr Bennett also helped to rescue a man trapped in the back seat of the 4x4 in which the woman died. "It took a while to get him out. We couldn't get the door open or the back seat open. Then we made one last effort to pull the woman out. When we pulled her out, she was dead. I think she was in her 50s." Abdul Kalam, a 32-year-old Indian, was making a delivery for the restaurant at which he works. "We rescued a lot of people before the fire got too big. The fire spread so quickly and we had to move very fast." Mr Bennett said Mr Kalam was a real hero. "These families and people here today owe you their life," he told the deliveryman. Police are investigating the incident.