Muscat: In a tragic incident, three students of Pakistani School Muscat (PSM) were killed in a road crash on 22 January, 2014.
The cause of the accident is still being ascertained.
The bus was ferrying PSM students from Mabelah area. The accident took place near the Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) at Mina Al Fahal.
There were 38 children in the bus, which, sources claimed, was overcrowded, as the bus had a capacity for only 25 people.
Sayyid was studying in Class V, Awais was in Class IV and Fareeha was the student of Class XII.
The impact was so forceful that the bodies of Awais and Sayyid were beyond recognition.
The Public Authority of Civil Defence and Ambulance (PACDA) rushed seven ambulances to the accident site. According to hospital sources, the driver, who is in his 50s, did not suffer any major injuries.
Talking to the Times of Oman, Muhammad Zakriya Babur, principal of PSM, said, "Three students died while two are still battling for life in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and are in a state of coma. We are praying for the speedy recovery of the two students. The accident took place in the morning at around 7am when the bus was on its way to school. The bus was coming from Mabelah, ferrying children who stay in and around that area. Almost all the children were asleep because they start early in the morning. We still don't know the actual cause of the accident."
The PSM has declared one-day mourning and the school will remain closed today.
Awais and Sayyid's bodies were beyond recognition, according to the relatives of the victims. "The parents were struggling to identify the bodies," the relatives added.
Meanwhile, the two boys who are battling for life in the ICU have been identified as Faisal, student of Class IX and Jawad of Class I.
"Both the boys are in coma. Faisal's lungs had clotting. The surgery has been performed but it may take at least 72 hours to say anything about his chances of survival," said sources at the hospital.
"The Almighty will not disappoint us," said Faisal's father with a quiver in his voice.
"Now, everything is in His hands. I am praying for both the kids," added Faisal's father.
Other than these two boys, three other students have been undergoing treatment in the general ward.
"Those who suffered minor injuries had been discharged after the treatment," said the PSM principal.
While some were treated in Khoula Hospital, others were admitted to Al Nadha Hospital.
Eyewitnesses said that the bus had hit the municipality garbage truck and overturned.
"The kids were looking traumatised. There were blood stains on their uniforms. They were not able to convey anything to the medics. It was a heartrending scene," sources said.
Meanwhile, in an emailed statement to the Times of Oman, the Pakistani Embassy stated that the mission office has already made arrangements to transport the bodies of the victims to Pakistan for burial. "We are in touch with the hospital authorities, the school management and the bereaved families to provide any assistance to them in this difficult time," added the embassy statement, while expressing grief over the tragic incident. With the support of the Times of Oman Readers' Club, a helpline was set up as soon the accident was reported by the Times of Oman on its website.
"The help extended by the nationals, members of the expatriate community and especially by the Times of Oman Readers' Club cannot be forgotten. The helpline was quite helpful in coordinating the efforts.
"In between, a call to donate blood was also made. We thank everyone who supported us in the wake of the tragedy," said the PSM principal.
People from all walks of life were present at the Khoula Hosptial's emergency department to lend a helping hand. "It is a sad day for all of us. We all are worried," said Muhammad Saeed Khan, chairman of the Pakistani Social Club (PSC).
"Parents of Sayyid and Awais have confirmed that both their bodies will be flown back to Pakistan for burial. Decision about the girl's body has not yet been taken," the PSC official said.
Meanwhile, social networking websites were abuzz with comments, posts and tweets after the accident was reported on the Times of Oman website. The report, filed in the morning within minutes of the mishap, had received hundreds of comments and posts till the evening. While many expressed shock, others extended condolences and prayed for the recovery of the injured students.
Many readers had also put forward suggestions to avert such tragedies in the future.
"One central body should be formed to cater to and monitor school transportations in Oman. Errant drivers should be monitored and action be taken against them. School authorities should treat these accidents as a lesson and, in coordination with the Ministry of Education (MoE), should act seriously on the issue. Currently, no school is ready to take any responsibility for students as soon as they step outside the school premises," a reader posted.
One of the readers posted that the transportation authority in Oman must review and manage the schools transport system.
"Contracted buses and transportation modes must meet better safety standards without any
"The Royal Oman Police and the transportation governing bodies in Oman must set conservative and strict regulations in the selection of buses, seating capacity, number of trips allowed, time management, and competence of the driver besides auditing the agency or companies handling contracts for school buses. Bus drivers must undergo screening for medical fitness as far as drugs and substance abuse tests and mental fitness are concerned, to identify any patterns of stress and strain during their jobs. Speeds of the contracted buses must be governed.
"School managements must review how each student is brought to school and taken back home," the reader commented.