Seventeen people died and nine others were severely hurt on Thursday when a bus crashed into a Dubai road sign, which the driver did not see because of his makeshift sun shield.
The passengers included a mix of residents and tourists of Asian and European origin, including Irish, Pakistani, Indian, German and Filipino citizens. The injured were taken to Rashid Hospital.
The Indian consulate in Dubai confirmed on Friday that eight of the deceased were Indian citizens, and later told The National that this figure had risen to 12.
The Oman-registered bus – a Mwasalat vehicle taking people between Dubai and Muscat – was travelling on Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Road, carrying 31 passengers, when it crashed into a signboard at Al Rashidiya exit at 5.40pm.
Initial investigations revealed that the Omani driver, in his fifties, took a lane that is not designated for buses. Police said he failed to spot several warning signs, a road bump and a height restriction chain, which alerts drivers that their vehicle exceeds the permitted height.
Eventually seeing the maximum-height sign protruding over the road, the driver swerved to avoid crashing into it, causing the sign to cut through the roof of the left side of the bus.
During questioning, the driver, who sustained light injuries, said he had not seen the warning signs because he had installed a small curtain on his windshield to protect his eyes from the sun.
Police said the impact of the collision on the bus indicated that the driver was exceeding the speed limit of 40kph on that road. In an image released by police, the roof of the left-hand side of the bus appeared to have been severely damaged while the right side was mostly still intact.
The Indian consulate named the deceased as: Rajagopalan, Feroz Khan Pathan, Reshma Feroz Khan Pathan, Deepak Kumar, Jamaludeen Arakkaveettil, Kiran Johnny, Vasudev, Tilakram Jawahar Thakur. They were aged between 30 and 50, but the consulate is still awaiting official documentation to confirm their exact details.
“Two among the confirmed dead were residents of Oman and were coming to Dubai on holiday, while six others were UAE residents,” said Mr Sanjeev Kumar, an official at the Indian consulate.
Police initially said 15 passengers were killed on impact while five others, including the bus driver, were taken to Rashid Hospital to be treated for injuries ranging from "moderate" to "severe".
An hour later, police said two more passengers, including a woman, died in hospital, increasing the death toll to 17.
On Thursday, police said thanked the "competent authorities involved" for their co-operation in the investigation of the "unfortunate incident".
The Oman government-owned bus company issued a statement on Twitter, offering condolences to the families of those who died and announcing the suspension of their daily E05 services between Muscat and Dubai until further notice. It said the decision to suspend the service, which ran three times a day, was taken in co-ordination with Dubai's Road and Transport Authority.
The company said it was working with the Dubai authorities to investigate the incident.
"[The] Mwasalat family expresses its deepest condolences to the families of the deceased and wishes a speedy recovery to the injured," the statement read.
"Mwasalat has paid great attention to the incident immediately on receipt of the news and has been in direct contact with the competent authorities in Dubai to look into the incident."
On Friday, the company issued a second statement, confirming that the bodies of four of the deceased had been handed over to their families and respective embassies.
"Contact with other embassies has been established for appropriate action," the bus company said.
It also said that eight of the injured had been discharged from hospital while one of the passengers remained in critical condition.
Dubai Police Chief Maj Gen Abdullah Al Marri said the crash was a "tragic incident that led to the death of innocent people".
He called on motorists to always be vigilant while driving.
"Sometimes a simple error or negligence during driving leads to serious consequences, as happened this evening, and resulted in the deaths of 17 people of different nationalities," Maj Gen Al Marri said.