At least four people have been killed and 347 injured after yesterday's 200-car pile up on the Abu Dhabi-Dubai highway, thought to be the UAE's biggest traffic accident in memory.
One report put the death toll at 12, although this figure has not been confirmed by official sources.
At least six of the injured are in critical condition. According to official sources, around 19 people sustained severe injuries while 284 had minor wounds.
The Ministry of Interior said that investigations are currently being undertaken to determine the actual cause of the accident.
However, thick fog was a major factor, with eyewitnesses claiming that visibility was down to below 10 metres at the time of the accident, which occurred at around 6am yesterday.
Colonel Osman Al Tamimi, Director of the Emergency and Safety Management section of Abu Dhabi Police said the central operations room received a call at 6.39am regarding a series of pile ups between Bahia bridge and Ghantoot bridge in the Dubai-bound side of the highway.
Emergency workers at the scene told local reporters that two main accidents occurred on the freeway: the first near Ghantoot, and the second near Samha, just south of Ghantoot.
More than 40 cars caught fire, causing traffic chaos on the Dubai-bound stretch of motorway.
Pictures showed charred wrecks, broken glass and metal strewn across the road, which was blocked for most of the day as police and rescue workers evacuated casualties and removed cars. Television footage showed vehicles ablaze in the road.
The injured were taken to Rashid Hospital in Dubai and Al Mafrak Hospital and Khaleefa Hospital in Abu Dhabi.
"I saw lots of ambulances, fire engines and smoke coming out of cars," said Jenny Bateman, a British witness.
The Ghantoot crash, which took place on a road where the speed limit is 120kph, was made worse by the fact that several buses carrying labourers to work were on the road. Police said 12 buses carrying some 300 workers in total were involved in the crash.
Insurance firms expect losses of about Dh100 million resulting from the accident.
Official statistics reveal that there were 1,056 recorded deaths on UAE roads in 2007, a 16.8 per cent rise on the previous year.
Colonel Hamad Adeel Al Shamsi, Director of Traffic and Patrols Department, told local media that motorists should exercise caution on the roads. He highlighted the importance of keeping a safe distance to avoid accidents.
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