Muscat: Two young children have died inside a locked family car. The brothers, aged five and three, suffocated in the vehicle parked outside their family home in Jalan Bani Bu Ali on Sunday, Royal Oman Police (ROP) confirmed.
The town is about 275 km from Muscat. The boys, Nasser and Hamad, were at home with family members when they ventured inside the car.
Relatives searched for over an hour when they realised the boys were missing. Said Al Kasbi, the victim’s uncle, told the Times of Oman, “The entire family was in the house when the incident took place. The children’s father brought some groceries into the house and parked his vehicle outside. He might have forgotten to lock the car.
“While everyone else was in the house, the children went into the car. After a while we started looking for them and searched everywhere, including their grandmother’s house. After an hour and half, we found them, but they were already dead.”
The heat is extremely likely to have contributed to the children’s deaths as the temperatures in Jalan Bani Bu Ali have been hovering between 39 and 42 degree Celsius for the last couple of days.
The incident is being investigated by authorities and has prompted the Royal Oman Police to ask parents and guardians to take care that small children don’t have easy access to cars, particularly during the hot summer months, as they might accidentally lock themselves inside and struggle to get out.
Urging parents to always monitor their children, an ROP official said, “Parents must ensure that children are out of the car before leaving it and should keep it locked so that they will not be tempted to play or sleep inside.”
Ali Al Barwani, a member of the Oman Road Safety Association (ORSA), said that the repeated occurrence of such incidents required stricter laws to ensure that children were protected.
He told Times of Oman: “It’s very painful not only for the family but for all of us. This tragic incident has claimed two innocent lives. Children should never be left alone in a vehicle under any circumstances. They are unable to regulate their core body temperatures especially in the soaring temperatures.”
He pointed out that introducing strict laws for neglectful parents who leave their vehicles unlocked might act as a deterrent and could prevent such incidents in the future. He urged parents to lock their vehicles, to keep vehicles in areas that were safe from the reach of children and asked them to park their vehicles in the shade, away from direct sunlight.
He added, “That vehicle was locked, and the children spent several hours inside, suffering in the heat, and no one knew anything about it. Parents must monitor their children and exercise extreme caution.”
Said Al Sadi, Shura member of Wilayat Jalan Bani Bu Ali said: “This is a rare case. This family has just suffered a huge personal loss, which we must accept now. Perhaps the father returned home tired, so he did not notice that he forgot to close the car.”
He added: “Parents must always be cautious about their children’s safety.”